BATON ROUGE, La. – Continuing its efforts to provide the safest roadways, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), along with its public safety partners, announced the latest installation of cable barriers at two press conferences, today, in Baton Rouge and Kenner, La.
Speaking at Louisiana State Police Troop A, DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas was joined by Mary Stringfellow, Program Delivery Team Leader of the Federal Highway Administration, Colonel Mike Edmonson, Superintendent of Louisiana State Police and Lieutenant Colonel John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. Secretary LeBas outlined the $2.7 million project, which will install cable barriers along a more than 20-mile stretch of Interstate 10 across four parishes, between East Baton Rouge and Jefferson parishes.
"We are here with a common goal – the safety of Louisiana citizens. At DOTD, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our roadways to make them safer for the traveling public," said Secretary LeBas. "This project will save lives."
Cable barriers are designed to prevent head-on collisions by deflecting vehicles that veer into the median from crossing over into oncoming traffic. Cable barriers act as a net to catch vehicles and redirect them into the median, not pushing the vehicle back into traffic.
"We applaud the efforts of the DOTD to keep Louisiana roads safe," said Stringfellow. "The installation of cable barriers is a proven safety countermeasure and a feasible way to save lives on our nation's highways. Most states that have installed cable median barriers report a decrease in cross-median crash fatalities of 90 percent or more."
Work is set to begin by mid-October 2011 and will conclude in summer 2012. The project, fully funded by federal safety funds, was awarded to Gulf Equipment Corp. of Alabama. The contractor will first install barriers in Jefferson Parish, continuing through St. John and Ascension parishes, and then move west towards Baton Rouge.
Joining Secretary LeBas for the Baton Rouge press event were Mona and Emma Gary, mother and sister of the late Grace Gary, who suffered a fatal cross-over incident in 2008. The Gary Family has since worked to support the installation of cable barriers in Louisiana in an effort to prevent their tragedy from happening to other families.
DOTD has spearheaded multiple initiatives such as the installation of over 2,100 miles of center line rumble strips and roundabouts as well as working with federal safety and state and local law enforcement partners on public awareness campaigns to discourage texting while driving and encourage motorists to buckle up.
The need for a cable barrier system arose from the 2006 legislative session when a resolution was passed to look into the feasibility of installing these safety features. As part of a pilot study, the first two areas to receive cable barriers were along the entire length of I-12 in St. Tammany Parish (32 miles) and along the entire length of I-10 in St. James Parish (6.8 miles). Later, cable barriers were installed on I-12 throughout the length of Tangipahoa Parish (17 miles) and on I-10 from the St. John Parish line to the Hope Canal (19.5 miles).
"The cable media barriers provide an additional safety measure that is efficient and effective." said LeBlanc. "We are pleased to partner with DOTD and appreciate the proactive safety planning."
DOTD performs analyses on all interstates throughout Louisiana to determine where cable median barriers would be most beneficial in preventing cross-over collisions. The criteria used are number of vehicles crossing the median per mile.
Here is a breakdown of the current project:
In East Baton Rouge Parish, the project will begin at Highland Road and extend approximately 1 mile to the Ascension Parish line. Total in East Baton Rouge Parish is 1 mile.
In Ascension Parish, cable median barriers will be installed from the East Baton Rouge Parish line south for 1 mile, then from LA 73 south for 3.5 miles, and from LA 22 to the St. James Parish Line, a distance of 6.5 miles. Total in Ascension Parish is 11 miles.
The project will then proceed from the southern end of the current existing cable barrier in St. James Parish and St. John Parish for 4.7 miles to the Reserve Relief Canal Bridge and then to the Bonnet Carre Spillway for a distance of approximately 3.3 miles. Total in St. John Parish is 8 miles.
Lastly, the project would install approximately 2.5 miles of barrier in Jefferson Parish from the St. Charles Parish Line to Veterans Interchange. Total in Jefferson Parish is 2.5 miles.
The cable barrier system is a testament to DOTD’s commitment to safety. Since they have been installed in Louisiana, there have been no incidents of vehicles crossing the median.
"Law enforcement officers see first-hand the devastating results of Interstate crossover crashes," said Edmonson. "However, since the installation of the cable barriers, we’ve seen proof that they offer a valuable safety barrier in these types of crashes. In fact, Troop L has not investigated a single crossover fatality since the installation of the cable barriers. These barriers are one of the most effective safety tools in the history of highway safety, ranking near the development of the seatbelt."
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email email@example.com, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511)