Construction season starts in Michigan, despite COVID-19 crisis

WXYZ Article By Kim Russell

(WXYZ) — The pandemic does not stop the start of new seasons – not even construction season. Road crews are out working to fix our roads to help you get around metro Detroit once the lockdown ends.

MDOT told road construction contractors to take actions to keep workers safe, even if it means some tasks are delayed.

“Eventually if they get sick the projects are going to lag, right? So we want to make sure we can maintain a sustainable workforce.” said Rob Morosi, MDOT spokesman.

Crews could be seen out on Wednesday setting bridge beams at 14 Mile Road and I-75 for MDOT’s Modernize I-75 project.

County Road Commission projects are also moving forward. 7 Action News saw work underway on Baldwin Road in Orion Township as the Road Commission of Oakland County works to finish a $50 million road widening reconstruction project from Gregory to Walden.

“Much to the credit of the road contractors out there working hard,” said Craig Bryson, Oakland County Road Commission Senior Manager of Communications.

Bryson says two county road maintenance workers and an engineer did become ill with COVID-19, but it is not believed they contracted the virus at work. Some had family members that were sick. The workers are recovering or recovered.

Bryson says to make sure workers don’t get sick at work they no longer work five, eight-hour days. Instead, they work three or four, 10-hour days, spread out over six days. It allows social distancing .

“It is slowing it down because we have half as many road workers in at any given time. But our workers are our most valued asset,” Bryson said.

“It is more important to have safe healthy job sites,” said Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association.

MITA represents 600 companies. At first it called on the governor to completely shut down road work to protect workers, but now companies have figured out safety protocols.

“Now that seems to have gotten into a pretty good routine and our industry is up and running pretty good,” Nystrom said.