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Cable barrier erected

Safety is a great concern in many aspects of our daily lives and Arkansas’s Highways are no exception. As a part of a roadway safety initiative, new safety cables are being installed along portions of I-530.

Stretching from the Hwy. 104 exit and the south interchange at U.S. 65, this new safety system is designed to prevent median cross-over accidents.

The White Hall area has already seen just what the system can do. Not long after the first cables were installed, a vehicle crashed into the barrier near the Hwy. 104 exit. Although nine of the posts were damaged, they may have prevented the driver from a head-on collision if the median had been crossed and the vehicle ended up in oncoming traffic.

The cause for concern comes in part from a study that showed in 2011, Arkansas was ranked the fourth highest in number of roadway fatalities in the nation. The number is calculated based on the population of the state versus the number of miles driven. A staggering 551 individuals lost their lives on Arkansas roadways that year.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has begun implementing a plan to improve safety and reduce the number of fatalities. District 2 Engineer David Henning said, “With this safety program that we are initiating, we are trying to reduce that number to a total of 400 by 2017 with all of the different efforts that we are implementing.”

Henning said, “The majority of accidents that occur are what we refer to as roadway departures. This is where a vehicle for one reason or another leaves the travel lane and either goes out into the woods or crosses the center line which can result in a head on collision.”

Along with the cable barrier, the highway department is working throughout the state adding new signage and in some areas installing rubble strips along road shoulders. All of these measures are designed to deter drivers from leaving the road.

The cable barriers along I-530 are being installed by Interstate Highway Construction out of Colorado. At this time the $2.3 million project is being funded by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) safety money and is 85 to 90 percent complete. It is ahead of schedule and will be complete in a fraction of the time that was allotted for the project.

The highway department will continue to find more ways to help keep drivers safe but no matter what safety devices are in place, there is no better precaution than a safe driver.