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ADOT Asks Motorists For Understanding On Highway Closures

Wildfires throughout the state are prompting closures along some freeways. Some motorists are taking their frustrations out on Arizona Department of Transportation workers, which the department says isn't fair.  

"ADOT does not decide which roads to close. Closures are determined by fire incident commanders who work in conjunction with law enforcement and ADOT, and motorists may face legal penalties for attempting to get around a barrier or other method used to shut down a road," ADOT said in a statement release Thursday. 

Some ADOT employees have reported being heckled, harassed or threatened by angered motorists who demand to continue on roads closed due to the increased danger of wildfires which are blazing throughout the state. Many ADOT employees are in the line of danger as well, with some having to evacuate their own homes in recent days. 

“We’ve had recently a member of our maintenance crew, up in the Mogollon Rim area, who had to evacuate his family from a fire zone. But he’s still on the job, doing his work to keep the public safe,” said Doug Nick, a public information officer for ADOT. 

For most of the year, ADOT employees work on highway maintenance such as picking up trash or repaving the roads. But during crisis moments such as wildfires, ADOT will close roads to assist the influx of emergency vehicles and the outflow of evacuees. 

Nick added that the decision to close highways is not taken lightly, but is made with the interest of public safety as the highest priority. Motorists who try to evade or go around barriers are subject to legal penalties.

Jack Johnson joined KJZZ as an intern in May 2021. He is currently a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.At ASU, he has hosted three radio shows on Blaze Radio, the student radio network. Johnson has written for multiple media outlets associated with the school. He works with the Pac-12 livestream crew and does the lead football commentary for Gilbert's Highland High School. He also is the host of the Trail Mix Podcast with Jack Johnson, which can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.He enjoys spending time with his family and being by the ocean, which is not too far from where he was raised in the Bay Area.