In Line of Duty Highway Department Honors Lost Workers

By Mei-Ling Hopgood Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

In Line of Duty Highway Department Honors Lost Workers


Mei-Ling Hopgood Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


JOAN WIEDA often consoled her husband, Bill Wieda, when one of his colleagues at the Missouri Department of Transportation died on the job.

During the 31 years he worked there, 16 men died on the highways - many of them hit by cars as they fixed potholes, adjusted signs or surveyed. The death of fellow workers upset him. In many ways, these victims were members of his second family.

Then last year, Bill Wieda became the victim. One of the department's trucks backed up and killed him last February as he repaired potholes on Interstate 40 at Hanley Road. Today, the Transportation Department is to dedicate a memorial honoring Wieda and other department workers who have died on the job. Since 1946, 22 workers have died while maintaining Missouri's highways. The memorial, a large rock on department grounds in Chesterfield, aims to remind motorists how dangerous highway work can be, said Linda Wilson, department spokesperson. "I hope that the public realizes the risks that these people take every day to provide a good road system," Wilson said. "I can't emphasize enough the importance of being aware of them and cautious when you see them. "They're just trying to do their job, and they're risking their life doing that for the public. What they do is not glamorous, wonderful or flashy. They fix potholes and pour sealant into cracks and plow snow. But it's important and essential when keeping the road system together." The department tries to protect its workers by using big, flashing arrows, bright orange cones and signs, message boards, reflective safety vests and crash cushions on trucks. Yet, sometimes that isn't enough. …

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