Some motorists upset with road closures due to multiple fires burning in Arizona are taking their frustrations out on ADOT personnel staffing the roadblocks.
ADOT does not decide which roads to close. Closures are determined by fire incident commanders who work in conjunction with law enforcement and ADOT, and motorists may face legal penalties for attempting to get around a barrier or other method used to shut down a road.
“We understand that especially for people who live in areas affected by a wildfire, this is a very stressful situation for the entire community,” said Rod Lane, an ADOT District Engineer who has handled fire-related closures for a number of years. “Our maintenance crews who close these roads do it to ensure that emergency responders can use the roads to access fire areas, evacuate residents and keep people out of harm’s way. We’re doing our best to keep everyone safe.”
This also highlights the comprehensive nature of the work performed by highway maintenance crews. During most of the year, crew members do pavement work, repair guardrail and clean up roadside trash. Incidents such as wildfires highlight the crews’ commitment to public safety first and foremost.
ADOT crews sometimes encounter motorists who are angry and demand to be allowed to drive on a closed highway. Brett Rupp, an ADOT Highway Operations Technical Supervisor in Payson says, “ADOT maintenance crews live in and around the communities we serve and some of us have had to evacuate ourselves and our families. It’s unfortunate when one of our crew members is confronted by an upset motorist because people may not realize what that person standing in the heat and smoke for several hours is going through. His or her home may be at risk, but they are still on the job protecting the community.”
For updated information on road conditions and restrictions: az511.gov.