MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A construction project is causing so much pain for drivers in Wisconsin, that they’re actually breaking the law to get around it.
Motorists are driving through the barricades, which are clearly marked Road Closed in Roberts, Wis. Other drivers are actually stealing the construction signs in the town located just across the St. Croix River.
Officials say it’s not only illegal, but that it’s dangerous too.
“It’s just inconvenient,” said driver Pete Chamberlain about the construction in the quiet western Wisconsin town. He’s the kind of driver construction workers worry about.
“If (the roads are) not blocked off, if you can see that you can get through, then I just go through,” Chamberlain said.
When the Wisconsin Department of Transportation started building roundabouts on Highway 65, drivers took a detour. It wasn’t where they were supposed to go, however, drivers actually went where they wanted.
At one spot near Interstate 94, drivers have to go down a steep ledge, around some cement pipes, and through a work area just to get to another street.
Construction workers have even snapped pictures of cars driving illegally.
Dave Koepp and his crew have found some signs and barricades moved — some even end up in the ditch.
“We’re putting up road closed signs,” Koepp said. “We’re having an issue with people not obeying them, moving them, stealing them, throwing them in ditches, which not only ruins it for everyone else coming through — they don’t have the warning — but as they’re driving through the construction zone, it creates a very unsafe hazard for them and us driving through the zone.”
Moving a construction barrier comes at a cost — if caught it’s $263 dollars. The fine for moving a traffic sign is steeper, at more than $300. Moving barriers and signs could also mean jail time, anywhere from 10 to 60 days behind bars.
Each time it happens, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has to go back out and spend taxpayer money installing new signs and barricades. It’s not up to the contractor to pay for this.
“It’s getting worse as it keeps going and the project’s continuing,” Koepp said.
Progress means problems and their problems might not end until construction does.