Road work season is upon us; drive with extra care

Upper Peninsula residents waited longer than usual for the lingering winter of 2013-14 to dissipate and summer-like weather to arrive, but it’s finally here.

Along with summer, which officially begins Saturday, comes all the things we expect, including picnics, camping, swimming and road construction projects.

Yes, mixed in with all the things we look forward to during pleasant weather are those road projects that can seem a little annoying, especially if they delay a trip.

However, these projects will be making improvements to the routes we travel by motor vehicle and when finished will be welcomed by motorists.

Included in about 100 road projects being tackled by the Michigan Department of Transportation this summer are nine in the U.P., including in Marquette, Houghton, Dickinson, Schoolcraft, Gogebic, Menominee and Chippewa counties.

In our region of the peninsula, work will include resurfacing 21.5 miles of M-35 from the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River bridge north to the intersection of Marquette County Road 480. Work on this stretch began this week and will run through August, so motorists will have to use caution while traveling through the construction zone for most of the summer.

Motorists should not only be careful around major construction zones like the one on M-35, either, but anywhere there are workers on or near the roadway, regardless of whether its a highway, rural country road or city street.

To help protect workers, there are increased fines and other penalties for drivers who break driving rules, cause accidents or injure workers.

However, motorists shouldn’t be extra cautious while driving through construction zones just because of the increased fines and other penalties, but because nobody wants to be the cause of any injuries to workers or damage to vehicles or equipment.

If you think the delays associated with construction zones slowing traffic are a hassle, they are nothing compared to the problems you’ll have if you cause an accident or get pulled over for violating traffic laws in a construction zone.