Three crashes occurred during a two-hour span at a Baltimore Beltway work site early Friday; the last injured two construction workers and a driver, Maryland State Police said.
Two male highway workers were stuck by an SUV around 3 a.m. at an MDOT State Highway Administration work zone on the inner loop of Interstate 695 at Harford Road, state police said.
Police said the driver of an SUV drove into the construction zone and struck the rear of an unoccupied pickup truck, pushing it into construction workers who were on foot.
One worker was taken by ambulance and the other was taken by helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The female driver was taken by ambulance to the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
Police withheld the names of the victims and driver, and did not release any additional information about their conditions Friday morning.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. Police said they do not believe alcohol or drugs were involved.
Police said the work zone was marked and a state trooper at the site had the emergency lights activated on his patrol car when the crash occurred.
"We do a lot of things to protect our workers," said State Highway Administration Administrator Gregory Slater, including setting up traffic barriers, stationing state troopers with vehicles with activated lights in construction sites to alert drivers, and setting up automated speed enforcement areas that ticket speeders.
But even with precautions, there are still risks. A worker on a bridge project was killed on January 9. Six people were killed in work zone-related crashes, including workers, drivers and passengers, both last year and the previous year, according to SHA officials.
"In these active work zones we need people to really pay attention, as you should whenever you are driving," Slater said.
"What you saw last night is a combination of things," including the confluence of more drivers on the roads and a significant amount of road construction, he said.
Four billion dollars-worth of projects are being completed across the state, including 10 projects along the beltway. The majority of the I-695 projects are expected to be completed by the end of the summer, Slater said.
At the construction site at I-695 near at Harford Road, workers are redoing the interchange, including the reconstruction of a bridge and the creation of an auxiliary lane between interchanges to give drivers more space to merge.
The construction work eliminated a lane, Slater said. Often, crashes are caused because drivers are not paying attention to lane configuration changes or speeding, he said.
All lanes of the inner loop of I-695 were initially closed early Friday while police investigated the crash and crews worked to clean up the area. By the morning rush hour, the road appeared clear, without delays.
The crash was the third on the Beltway in about two hours.
Just after 1 a.m., a truck carrying construction equipment was slowing to enter the work zone when it was struck in the rear by a driver who failed to slow down. The driver of the passenger car was taken by ambulance to Sinai Hospital.
Shortly after 2:30 a.m., two vehicles on the outer loop of I-695 at Providence Road failed to merge near the construction site and collided and veered off the road nearby. One driver was taken by ambulance to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.
Slater said a fourth crash was reported at Interstate 81 and Interstate 70 in Washington County, where a driver was injured.
Work at the Beltway crash sites, along with road projects elsewhere will be suspended through the holiday weekend, he said.