Highway crews at a Texas Dept. of Transportation project kicked off the industry's second annual Safety Week, held on May 3-9, by constructing six so-called barrel monsters along 35Express, a $1.4-billion, 30-mile highway construction corridor near Dallas.

"They are whimsical and fun, but we want people to understand that they are a nod to safety," says Kimberly Sims, project spokeswoman.

The orange "beasts"—assembled from safety barrels, road signs and other construction components and resembling giant Lego figures—previously began popping up in other states as creations of roadside vandals, but highway agencies and contractors are adopting the practice to slow down drivers in work zones.