GLEN ROCK, NJ - Most motorists and residents have cheered the long awaited paving of Rock Road and Maple Avenue, but some impatient travelers have unnerved police with "close calls."
Glen Rock Police Chief Dean Ackermann said that while there has been ample warning of the milling and paving and equally ample street signs, individuals have "all too often...created a hazard."
"Despite flashing red and blue lights, carefully placed orange cones, barricades and ROAD CLOSED SIGNS posted around road construction zones," Chief Ackermann said, "drivers all too often drive through these work areas, creating a hazard for not only the road construction workers and police officers, but also themselves."
Chief Ackermann said the average motor vehicle weighs three to four thousand pounds while officers and construction workers are required to stand in roadways with little or no protection.
"These drivers are often abusive towards the officers and workers, demanding to drive on roads which are immediately under construction and not safe to drive on, regardless of the motorist’s personal opinion," Chief Ackermann said.
"While drivers are more likely to comply with road closures when police are present, we have had far too many close calls where motorists drive on closed roadways past detours, pull far too close to the officers and demand unrealistic accommodations which the officers are not able to provide," he said. "The recent road construction on Rock Road and Maple Avenue have created inconvenience for all with major traffic delays, however there is no other option available. Safety over convenience will always be the priority."
The Chief suggested motorists need to leave home early, expect delays and plan alternate routes.
"Road closed means road closed. If a motorist is driving around barricades or cones and driving up to an officer in the street, it is unlawful and dangerous," he said.
"Despite ever evolving work zone safety precautions, scores of workers are killed at road projects each year," Chief Ackeramann said. "Across the country, 609 lost their lives at construction sites between 2011 to 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. While we have not had a worker or an officer injured during this project, there have been some close calls."
Most road construction managers and public utilities will pay the higher cost of having police officers present for work zone safety rather than lesser paid private flaggers, he said.
"Drivers all too often refuse of obey flaggers and detours resulting in accident and injury which creates liability. While drivers can be uncooperative with police, we can issue tickets, flaggers cannot. Often just the sight of an officer at a work zone increases cooperation, but there are always exceptions. Where necessary officers will take enforcement action and motorist can argue their actions in court if they desire," Chief Ackermann said.
"We also thank those many motorists who have taken this inconvenience in stride and gone out of their way to cooperate."