Highway construction work is a very dangerous job - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Highway construction work is a very dangerous job


By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A never ending line of cars fly by the barrels placed at the I-10 widening project in Jackson County.  The higher the speed, the greater the danger. 

Kelly Castleberry is the MDOT engineer overseeing the project.  He is constantly giving his workers advice about staying safe. 

"The job can be dangerous, especially when you're working around high speed traffic," Castleberry said.  "People are a little bit more emboldened when they're behind the wheel of their vehicle. There are a lot of distractions that occur, listening to the radio, eating, talking on the cell phone." 

Lee Huff has done highway work for years, and he takes that advice to heart. 

"I look out for everything, because you can never tell when a tire may come off a trailer, or somebody might hit a barrel or anything, maybe somebody driving drunk," Huff said. "I always keep my eyes peeled." 

Even with all the precautions, the lead contractor on the job, Frank Mallette, still sees danger every day.  

"We've had a lot of close calls just on this particular job right here," Mallette said. "People just will not slow down when they get into a construction zone."

The construction workers are always cognizant of the dangers they face every day on a busy construction job, like the one on I-10, because only one thing stands between them and getting hit by a car.  

"The line of barrels," Mallette said. "Everybody thinks it's a concrete wall, but it's not. It's an invisible wall." 

But there's always one thought at the back of the workers' minds, according to Castleberry.  

"A lot of people come out here to work to make sure people can get where they're going safely. And to think that sometimes you may not be able to go home after a day's work is a little sobering in itself," Castleberry said.

This particular job involves widening Interstate 10 from I-110 to a few miles east of the Ocean Springs exit. It should be complete by the end of this year.

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