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Cable median projects expand across Lubbock area aiming to reduce fatal head-on crashes

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As one project ends, another is just beginning to install cable median barriers along Lubbock County highways. It’s a way TxDOT hopes to reduce the chance a vehicle crosses into oncoming traffic while lessening the impact a median would have on that vehicle.

“Once we get these medians installed, they are going to prevent some of the worst kinds of crashes, head-on crashes, by not letting vehicles cross over the median into oncoming traffic,” TxDOT Public Information Officer Dianah Ascencio said. “That’s basically what these barriers are designed for. As they are hit, the post and the cable absorb the energy from the vehicle, slow it down and then refocus the vehicles traction to slide along the cable, preventing it from crossing onto oncoming traffic.”

Crews are completing a project along the Idalou Highway or Highway 62/82 from Lubbock to Crosby County and starting to install the medians on Highway 84 from Slaton to the Lynn County line.

Other areas the cables have been installed include Highway 84 from Lubbock to the Hockley County line and Highway 84 or the Slaton Highway from Lubbock to Posey. You’ll also see them along areas of the North and South Loop 289 and on I-27 from New Deal to Plainview.

“TxDOT is dedicated to reducing and eliminating fatalities on our system,” Ascencio said. “In 2019, the Texas Transportation Commission made $600 million worth of safety funds available across the state. We’ve taken much of those funds that were allotted to our district and use them to install these cable median barriers to improve safety.”

About $44 million has been invested locally for all recent projects. That includes the other I-27 median improvements in Lubbock and Plainview.

Lisa Ashmore, a Lubbock realtor, took her appreciation for the barriers to TikTok in January. Her daughter was traveling along Highway 84 between Lubbock and Shallowater when she became distracted and crashed into the median.

In a video that’s been viewed close to 60,000 times, she said the cable median saved her daughter’s life and minimized the damage to the car.

“We’re very happy when we see citizens acknowledge the effort to improve the safety on our system is actually paying off,” Ascencio said. “We appreciate her sharing that and actually our Transportation Commission did share it in a Transportation Commission meeting back in February just acknowledging the hard work that we are doing and thanking her for sharing that with us.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety is also appreciative for their colleagues at TxDOT for the efforts to save lives.

“While we may have minor fender benders as a result of someone sliding into them, the impact of such is a lot less great than if they were to go all the way across and hit another vehicle head-on,” Sgt. Johnny Bures said. “It does cut out a lot of the major crashes that we would see and a lot of the fatal crashes.”

Bures said law enforcement collaborates with TxDOT to place necessary crossovers along the barriers and to understand how to safely deal with vehicles that bay be entangled in the barriers.

Sgt. Bures encourages drivers to think of the barrier as an extra level of safety but to take their own steps to reduce their chance of being involved in a crash.

“Ultimately, it all comes down to the driver,” Bures said. “Slow down. Put down the phone. Let’s not drive distracted. Pay attention to what’s going on, to the task at hand, which is driving and getting there safely.”

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