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State transportation officials have taken a number of proactive measures to help ensure the safety of the public and employees during the coronavirus crisis.
“We are following the governor’s lead and taking various steps and changing how we do business to help ensure everyone’s safety,” said Andrew Barksdale, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Several driver’s license offices have been closed with the rest consolidated. Many NCDOT employees are working from home. Those employees are in regular contact with their supervisors and reporting what they are doing from home each day, Barksdale said.
Visitors have been restricted from accessing division offices in each county where there are district engineers, resident engineers and other staff members. Visitors must make an appointment and practice social distancing, but those field offices see very little walk-in traffic anyway, Barksdale said.
“Our contract crews continue to do highway work,” Barksdale said. “We have four separate projects ongoing along I-95. As of today, they are still working. Because the work is outside, they are not in a confined area. Our contractors tell us they are making changes to reduce the potential of congregating outside. They will practice social distancing when eating lunch, for instance. And they are taking other precautions to keep their workforce, including at their offices, safe. They will let us know regularly how they are doing and if anything changes that would affect highway construction.”
NCDOT has coordinated with the governor’s office and the State Emergency Response Team to develop messages on digital signs displayed on overhead fixtures on interstates and federal and highways.
“Most of the time, these messages are to be used for traffic info, but federal guidance offers exceptions during national emergencies.” Barksdale said.
Here are some other recent steps NCDOT has taken amid the COVID-19 outbreak:
• Staff is directed to use video or conference calls for meetings whenever possible.
• Attendance at conferences and events has been suspended.
• All board meetings are being held virtually.
• Public events have been canceled.
• Welcome centers are closed. Restrooms at those locations are open with ramped up disinfecting procedures.
• Per the governor’s recent executive order, the NCDOT has waived restrictions on oversized or overweight vehicles for quicker transport of medical supplies.