Cable barriers have big impact in preventing serious accidents | News

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Cable barriers have big impact in preventing serious accidents

YARMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Yarmouth Fire Chief Michael Robitaille has seen many serious accidents along the seven mile stretch of Interstate 295 his department covers, but says the recent addition of median cable barriers has made the highway safer.

"They are certainly a life saver as far as I am concerned," he stated. 

"It actually brings that car down slower," explained Robitaille.  "There is a lot less damage to the vehicles.  There certainly is a lot less injuries is what we are finding."

The Maine Department of Transportation started installing median cable barriers in 2010 along sections on I-295 and U.S. Route One where the median was less than fifty feet wide between the northbound and southbound lanes of travel.

"Medians were originally designed as a safety cushion, but we are finding, on medians that are under 50 feet wide, something more is needed," said MDOT Safety Manager, Duane Burnell.

"The real reason why we have got those installations out there, is we were finding, especially on narrower median areas, is that we were having crossover activity," he added.  "When you talk about crossovers at high speeds, you know the outcomes can often be deadly."

The MDOT says there were four cross-median fatalities between 2005 and 2009 before the cable barriers were installed.  There have been none since.

While the barriers are cheaper to install and easier to maintain than regular guard rails, they can only be used in areas where the road is straight for long stretches according to Burnell.  He says they have already deployed them in most of the areas where they can be used, but the DOT will be adding them along I-195 between the Maine Turnpike and Old Orchard Beach later this year.