PHOENIX ‒ Cases of chilled bottled water, protective lightweight clothing, sun visors and shaded tent areas, coupled with mandatory training on dealing with extreme heat, are just some of the ways crews building the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway are prepared for temperatures forecast to surge beyond 110.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for the Valley beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 17. While everyone needs to be prepared for the heat, soaring temperatures can be especially dangerous for roadway maintenance and construction workers, in part because temperatures on asphalt or concrete are 15-20 degrees higher than the air temperature.
That’s why crews from Connect 202 Partners, the developer responsible for building the 22-mile South Mountain Freeway, are putting safety first and taking extra precautions that the public can follow as well.
ADOT, along with its construction contractors, trains employees to know that exposure to summer heat can be life-threatening if not treated properly. Highway workers are taught to monitor themselves and their co-workers for signs of heat-related stress and to use common sense when working in the sun.
“Arizona heat poses a serious challenge to our workers and heat injuries are a potential hazard for our road crews, so ADOT, its employees and contractors have to be diligent in monitoring for signs of heat-illness and use common sense,” said Julie Gadsby, ADOT assistant district engineer on the South Mountain Freeway team. “ADOT does a good job of preventing heat illnesses through a variety of ways, including keeping workers hydrated, starting the work day earlier to avoid some of the extreme temperatures, and having workers that are trained and knowledgeable to recognize heat stress symptoms early.”
More than 1,500 construction workers on the South Mountain Freeway project have completed a mandatory heat stress training class. They learn the signs and symptoms of heat injury, and to observe proper work practices that include drinking enough fluids, taking adequate rest breaks and knowing first-aid procedures when someone becomes ill from the heat.
Connect 202 Partners is providing shaded areas and cold bottled water with electrolyte powder, while certified emergency medical technicians are available. EMTs can conduct medical monitoring such as checking blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and temperature.
These strategies used by ADOT can help everyone address the effects of the heat:
- If possible, start work earlier in the day and finish before the hottest hours of the afternoon. Use a buddy system with each watching the other for early signs of heat illness.
- Stay hydrated with cool drinking water.
- Have sun protection including a hat, a light-colored and long-sleeved shirt, and sunscreen.
- Those without experience working in hot environments should acclimate over several days by taking extra time to rest and stay hydrated.
The 22-mile South Mountain Freeway, expected to open by late 2019, will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to I-10 through downtown Phoenix. Approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley.
For more information on the South Mountain Freeway, visit SouthMountainFreeway.com.