Iowa’s governor has asked the D.O.T. to speed up installation of barriers made of thick metal cables in the medians of highways, especially in areas where head-on collisions have occured. Governor Culver wrote a letter to the Iowa D.O.T.’s director this week to formally make that request.

“She shares my concern and I really believe that (DOT) director Richardson deserves enormous credit because this has been her focus, along with Gene Meyer at (the Department of)Public Safety, to make improvements in terms of safety measures — more cable barriers,” Culver says. “So we’ve actually come a long way in just the past three-and-a-half years to make roads safer.”

Culver cites a number of recent crashes in which vehicles have crossed the interstate median and crashed directly into on-coming traffic. In the last half of August, eight people died and eight others were injured in three separate accidents along Interstate-80 in Jasper County. In each of the three wrecks, a driver crossed the median and crashed into traffic coming from the other direction. There is no cable barrier in that area.

The D.O.T.’s current construction plan calls for completing barrier placements, statewide, by 2013. “If we know there’s a ‘danger zone’ if you will — if we’re very concerned with a particular stretch of our interstate or state highway system — let’s not wait,” Culver says. “We can’t afford to lose another life. We can’t afford to have anyone injured.”

D.O.T. commissioners will consider moving up the timetable for installing the barriers in highway medians at the next commission meeting.