Update from Northeast Region Vice-President
Kevin Russel, PE

2018 has been an extremely busy year for us here in Harrison County, Indiana. We have a number of projects that have been in development for some time that all went to construction this year. When combined with our normal construction budget, the result is over $18 million of projects in construction all at once, which as you might imagine, has made for a hectic summer. We are about 16 inches above normal in rainfall for the year too, so it has been a challenging construction season all around.

One of the projects I’m most excited about this summer actually doesn’t involve any construction. Harrison County was given the opportunity to partner with FHWA, our Indiana LTAP, and our Indiana DOT (INDOT) on a local road safety project early this year. After discussing our county’s needs and goals, it was decided that LTAP and FHWA would assist us with analyzing our crash data and help us create a local road safety plan. I think safety is a priority for all of us, but at times it can become, a bit like the oxygen we breathe, taken for granted. Going through a process like this results in a refreshed perspective on all facets of road safety. I suspect all of us have experienced the sorrow of losing a friend or a loved one to a traffic accident. Our Harrison County community recently suffered the loss of a young person to a traffic accident. Even more recently, a colleague and true friend to many of us in the industry in Indiana was killed in a traffic accident. I don’t believe a magic bullet exists that will eliminate fatalities on our roads. We can control and/or impact many of the variables that contribute to these tragedies, but we don’t have total control over one of the most important variables, driver behavior. And driver behavior can at times make all the other variables seem insignificant. But we do have control over some variables. And even if we can’t control driver behavior, we can impact it. And when we focus our attention on these variables, control the variables we can control, and positively influence those other variables we can’t control, we create the best environment possible to avoid these deadly accidents. And that process saves lives. We get to be a part of saving lives.

As I mentioned, I’m really excited about going through this process because what it means to my county, my home. But, I’m also very excited about this because once we finish this process, we are going to get to be a part of promoting local road safety plans throughout the entire state of Indiana. We will be the first county in Indiana to create a local road safety plan, so we will get to use our experience to help other Indiana counties follow in our footsteps. We not only get to be a part of saving lives in Harrison County, we get to be a part of a process that will save lives throughout our entire state.

I first became aware of local road safety plans through my experience with NACE. Local road safety is a focus of NACE and across the country, there are other counties like mine that are creating local road safety plans because of NACE and NACE’s Local Road Safety Foundation and our partnership with FHWA. NACE is comprised of people like me and you. My favorite thing about NACE is meeting other County Engineer’s from all over the country, comparing what they do with what we do, and learning new things from that process that I can bring home to Harrison County.

What’s your favorite thing about NACE? What have you been able to take back to your county through your experience with NACE?

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