Monday, April 08, 2002

Barriers planned along I-75

Cables to prevent median crossovers

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        LEBANON - Work to install barriers in the median of a deadly stretch of Interstate 75 in Butler and Warren counties is expected to start this summer and be completed by the end of the year.

        The barriers, which will feature three steel cables attached to posts, will run from Ohio 129 in Liberty Township to Ohio 73 in Franklin, said Kim Patton, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

        The 12-mile stretch of highway was the site of 10 fatal accidents between November 2000 and January. The crashes killed 13.

        Most of the collisions involved vehicles that crossed the median into oncoming traffic.

        After a January crash, ODOT officials studied potential safety improvements designed to eliminate crossovers.

        Though the cabling system was not included in the original review of options, the barrier system has been used in other states, Ms. Patton said.

        It will be the first time it has been used in this part of Ohio. The barriers will cost about $1.2 million.

        “They're supposed to stop the vehicles,” Ms. Patton said. “It is easier to repair, too, than some of the other options that were looked at.”

        Other improvements include concrete barriers, guard rails, grassy mounds in the median and regrading the median.

        The work is not expected to cause major traffic tie-ups.

        There were no fatalities on that stretch of I-75 during 1998, 1999 or the first 10 months of 2000.

        Then came the spate of bad accidents.

        “We don't know what caused the people to cross the median,” Ms. Patton said. “There's no common thread among any of the accidents.”

        In addition to the barriers, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers continue to pay special attention to the highway, especially to aggressive drivers, drivers following too closely, and the usual drunken motorists and speeders, Lt. Mike Sanders said.

        Through March 24, troopers have had almost 2,500 contacts with drivers and have handed out about 2,000 citations on I-75 in Warren County alone. The concentrated enforcement on I-75 began at the end of January and runs through April 28.

        “Enforcement is a temporary fix at best,” Lt. Sanders said. “The drivers are the ones responsible to make sure they are using the roadway in a safe manner.”


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