ASHLEY — A traveling memorial set up in Luzerne County on Wednesday serves as a grim reminder for drivers to keep their eyes open — and their speed down — as they make their way through work zones and around road construction workers.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Maintenance Manager Sam Galante said there is one cross for each of the 84 workers who died on the job since 1977. If fatalities from the state Department of Highways were included, he said, an additional 24 crosses would be present.
Orange and white hardhats were placed on the top of each cross — the white ones represented foremen, while orange represents general workers.
He said the crosses also do not include the fatalities of contractors that work with PennDOT.
The memorial was at PennDOT’s District 4-0 headquarters in Ashley and has been erected in all of the state’s 67 counties at malls, parks, PennDOT offices and other locations.
The original memorial was created in 2001 by highway foreman Ed Moore and his crew from the Milan Stockpile in Bradford County.
“They decided to put together this memorial as a tribute to the fallen,” Galante said. “From what I understand, there were no state funds for this memorial.”
Of those 84 crosses, 10 represented casualties of employees from District 4-0. PennDOT District 4 includes Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
The memorial does more than honor the fallen.
“This memorial is not only intended to remember the fallen workers, but to also stress safety among drivers passing through the work zones,” Galante said. “It also serves as a reminder of the importance of awareness while working within a work zone.”
Galante encouraged drivers to slow down when they enter a construction zone or if construction workers are on the job.