The Iowa Transportation Commission today approved plans to accelerate installation of median cable barriers in areas where head-on or cross-over crashes have occurred. Iowa Department of Transportation design maintenance engineer Deanna Maifield says six projects covering 90 miles of median cable barrier will be moved from the fiscal year 2012 program to 2011.
“That’ll give us a total of 149 miles to install as opposed to the 59 we had originally planned,” Maifield said. The six projects will cost just over $5.8 million. They’re located in areas where there have been a high number of crashes involving vehicles crossing the median into oncoming traffic.
“They do tend to be on our high volume interstates,” Maifield said. “They tend to go from the high population areas where we have more interchanges.” The six projects include 10 miles of cable barrier along I-35 in Warren County, 9 miles along I-80 between Cedar and Scott Counties, 13 miles along I-80 in Dallas County, 23 miles along I-80 between Jasper and Poweshiek Counties, 22 miles on I-80 between Polk and Jasper Counties and 13 miles on I-380 between Johnson and Linn Counties.
Governor Culver asked the D.O.T. to speed up installation of the barriers last month – shortly after eight people were killed and eight others were injured in three separate accidents along I-80 in Jasper County. In each of the wrecks, a driver crossed the median and crashed into traffic coming from the other direction.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of cross-over crashes in recent months,” Maifield said. “We don’t really know the reason for the spike all of the sudden, but these cables are our best protection to prevent those types of crashes.” There are currently about 100 miles of cable barriers already installed along Iowa’s interstates.
Photo courtesy of Iowa D.O.T.