Halbrook, Sheriff Kuhns Testify on Preventing Construction Zone Tragedies

Rep. Halbrook this week presented legislation in the Illinois House Transportation-Regulation, Roads and Bridges that will help improve safety in highway construction zones throughout the state. Halbrook, who was joined in committee by Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns, said House Bill 5422 will  require more information sharing between the Illinois Department of Transportation and local officials, law enforcement, and nearby medical professionals on highway construction and repair projects near their communities to help prevent another construction zone tragedy like last September’s crash near Teutopolis that caused five deaths and a mass evacuation.

“Traveling through an active construction zone is always going to involve some risk, but we can work together to minimize the chance of disastrous, fatal accidents. Making sure local leaders, law enforcement officials, and medical professionals know details and timelines of highway construction projects near their communities is a good start,” Halbrook said. “We’re continuing to work out a few details with IDOT, but I’m expecting agreement very soon.”

In September 2023 a semi-truck hauling a tank of anhydrous ammonia swerved to avoid a vehicle in a construction zone on Highway 40 Near Teutopolis. The truck overturned, and the leaking ammonia vapor claimed the lives of five individuals, hospitalized several others, and caused the evacuation of a large portion of the community.

“We did have communication with IDOT, but this accident shifted our focus. We are having meetings now on a more regular basis and I feel we are more a part of the team. I want the same for other local representatives,” Sheriff Kuhns told committee members.