Official: Motorist illegally driving on closed road prompts warning

A Dane County Sheriff’s Office official is reminding people not to drive on closed roads after a construction worker was nearly struck by a motorist illegally driving on a closed road near Cross Plains Thursday.

Traffic safety coordinator and Dane County sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Alsaker said the driver illegally entered a closed road on County Road P south of Cross Plains and nearly hit the worker.

Alsaker said the sheriff’s office is conducting additional enforcement in highway work zones, but motorists continue to ignore the road closures, which presents unique hazards to the men and women who work on the  highways.

It is illegal to drive through any portion of the closure, even if it does not look like work is being done on a certain segment, Alsaker said.

The work zone where Thursday’s incident took place extends from the intersection of County Road P at West Mineral Point Road-Pine Bluff all the way to County Road P at Bourbon Road.

The only exception that allows motorists to use the roadway is for “local traffic,” which refers to vehicles that have an origin or destination inside the work zone, the sheriff’s office said citing state Department of Transportation definitions. Local traffic may include residents, business customers, business owners, delivery trucks, emergency vehicles and school buses.

It does not mean that if you live in an area nearby the road closure that you can drive on the closed roadway. The only person who can give a motorist permission to drive through a road closure is a law enforcement officer.

The sheriff’s office said that if workers are present, the fine for illegally driving on a closed road doubles. Statewide, fatality crashes are up about 10 percent and fatalities from the crashes are up about 13 percent this year, officials said.