Highway Dept. investing millions to reduce deadly crashes

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The State Highway Department plans to invest millions of dollars to make roads safer. Over the next three years they will install hundreds of miles of cable median barriers. They say the seventy-four million dollar project will reduce deadly crashes.

"I think it's a great move for safety again we try to stay on the cutting edge of technology," said Randy Ort, spokesperson for the State Highway Department.

Ort says that cutting edge of technology for highways has proven to be cable median barriers.

"The cable barriers are less expensive than the guardrail but they're much easier to replace and maintain once they are struck," said Ort.

The department says grass dividers can usually keep cars from crossing over but that's not always the case. The result is often fatal.

"On those rare incidences when they do crossover through the median area into oncoming traffic that becomes one of the most deadly kind of accidents that we can have," said Ort.

The department installed these cables between Brinkley and Briscoe to test them out. Accidents dropped from ten fatalities in thirty six months to zero in the next thirty six.

"As of now we've not had any penetration of these barriers nothing has been able to crossover anywhere we've installed these barriers and that's pretty much the case nationwide," He said.

With over one hundred miles of barriers installed or under construction and 400 more in the next three years, Ort says it is a big project that will be well worth it in the end.

"We've been very successful with it what we've used here in Arkansas we're very excited to add this safety feature to more of our highways," said Ort.

The seventy-four million dollar project will be funded by state and federal aid.