HAZELWOOD, Mo. (KMOV.com) - The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Hazelwood Police Department are implementing safety improvements following several crashes in a North County construction zone.
The area of concern is on I-270 between Lindbergh and I-170. Josh Franks and Charles Heavel said they travel through the construction zone weekly. On Saturday, the two were 10 minutes into what was supposed to be a nine-day motorcycle trip across the country. Franks and Heavel were heading east through the construction site when gravel and debris got caught in Heavel’s tires.
“As my front tire started spinning, I couldn’t turn to stay in the lane,” Heavel said. “My back end came around and went up underneath me, and I pushed myself back off the bike, so the bike went forward and slammed into the jersey barrier and I came in behind it.”
Franks said he was riding behind Heavel and had nowhere to go, and crashed into his motorcycle. Franks said he was thrown nearly 30 yards down the highway. Franks now has a fractured wrist and Heavel has a broken ankle – but both are grateful their injuries aren’t worse.
“I came out with a little bit of road rash and a broken wrist, and a totaled bike – you really can’t complain about that it’s generally a fatal accident,” Franks said.
Both motorcyclists said the amount of debris and tight turn lanes make the construction zone a hazard. News 4 uncovered the Hazelwood Police Department has responded to 102 crashes in that construction zone since January 1. The department said it’s working with MODOT and the roadway construction company, Millstone Webber, to make traveling in the construction zone safer. At the beginning of the project, the speed limit within the construction zone was lowered from 60 MPH to 50 MPH. According to the police department, MoDOT has provided them with grant opportunities to have officers on I-270 to enforce Hazardous Moving Violations, making for safer travel. MoDOT said it’s increased signage in an effort to caution drivers to slow down.
After News 4 contacted MODOT, an employee went out to observe the area to ensure any debris was cleaned up. MoDOT is asking drivers to slow down, drive the speed limit and obey signage to prevent future crashes. If you see a problem within the construction zone, you are asked to call 314-275-1500.