Archive for Tuesday, April 19, 2011

KDOT cites 2008 study about cable median barriers for Kansas Highway 10

April 19, 2011


The Kansas Department of Transportation said a 2008 traffic study did not find Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence to be the state’s best candidate for cable median barriers compared with two other four-lane stretches of road near Topeka and Wichita.

KDOT officials highlighted the study Monday after they were questioned about the number of wrong-way crashes on K-10.

Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor, said the study considered the width of medians and traffic volume on the state’s four-lane roads. He said Kansas highways are designed with wide and flat medians and that cable medians have been used more often on roads such as Interstate 70 east of Kansas City, Mo., which had a narrower median, higher traffic count and higher fatality rate.

Two people, including a 5-year-old boy, died Saturday and three people were injured when an eastbound car crossed the median near Eudora and struck a minivan head-on. Two other women died in separate wrong-way crashes in October and August near De Soto.

KDOT spokeswoman Kim Qualls said the state planned to reopen the cable-median study every three years, and Sicking said K-10 could be closer to being recommended for barriers then.

KDOT has a $235,000 construction project under way on U.S. Highway 75 for a 1-mile stretch in Topeka with future plans for 4 miles of a cable median along Kansas Highway 96 in Sedgwick County, Qualls said.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

  1. If KDOT does not want to spend the money how about allowing trees to grow and reduce the mowing costs substantially.

  2. Create more crossover spaces for state troopers to control speeding vehicles with trees as the "hiding places"

  3. Instead of spending money on cables or other barriers spend it on long term employment aka state troopers in combination with the natural barrier aka trees/hedge row.

  4. Why keep the state highway system looking like a golf course?

What about this idea?

Zachary Stoltenberg 6 years, 1 month ago

"What about this idea?" - It's idiotic, stick to copy and paste...

William McCauley 6 years, 1 month ago

Alex, I'll take the "like button" 200.00 please....

mtnfreak 6 years, 1 month ago

How does planting trees reduce mowing costs? If you planted a couple of trees in your yard would it reduce your mowing costs? Trees require spacing between each one and the grass between them still needs to be mowed. Trees would actually increase costs because now the state would need to pay an arborist to maintain them and keep them healthy. It only takes one snow/wind/thunderstorm to knock a tree over into traffic, cause an accident and the victim to sue the state.

gr 6 years, 1 month ago

Trees! I vote for trees in the median. True, they could cause a fatality, but at least not two instances. And the impact would be half the speed of a head-on collision.

Crystal Patterson 6 years, 1 month ago

The article in on KMBC's website says "He said K-10 may not be the best place for them because of the wide median between the lanes, a distance that usually gives enough time for cars to stop." Anyone who has ever driven down K-10 after a massive snowstorm can see the tracks all up and down the highway where people have slid off and made it all the way the to the other side. Fortunately, they were going slow enough to not hit anyone. I realize that snow is slicker than grass, but if people can slide all the way through in the snow going 30 miles per hour, they can obviously do it going 70. And like gr said, even if trees or wires or whatever else cause damage and injuries to the car plowing into them, it's better than a collision at 140 miles per hour. They could plant some of that beautiful Kansas prairie grass, it may not be thick enough to stop a car, but it would slow them down better than short dewy grass would.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

I like the idea of trees. Really, who doesn't like trees.

eotw33 6 years, 1 month ago

“the state planned to reopen the cable study every 3 years." well, the one refered to in the article was in 2008, sooo.....where's the new one?

timetospeakup 6 years, 1 month ago

It's the beginning of the year, cut them some slack. They said they'd reopen the study in 3 years, not that it'd be complete and published in the first third of the year.

03harleyrider 6 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 6 years, 1 month ago

I am not an engineer so I apologize if this seems like a dumb question, but why doesn't the state just use the dirt it scrapes off while leveling a roadway to fashion earthen berms as the medians? KDOT could also import dirt from other projects to aid in constructing berms that are high enough & thick enough to prevent most vehicles from crossing over. Those that do would likely be slowed enough to prevent fatalities.

mtnfreak 6 years, 1 month ago

Because the dirt in cut sections is relocated to areas that need fill. Engineers usually try to balance the earthwork to reduce the amount needed to be hauled in or carried away - thereby reducing costs.

chrac8 6 years, 1 month ago

Hasn't there been enough people killed on this highway. Not only a little boy was killed this weekend but a young man also. Several years ago a woman, and before that my friends husband. How many people does a highway have to take before KDOT decides to do something about this highway? If they put the idiots bumps along the side of the road to let you know that you are drifting too far to the inside of the middle towards the median. At least that would give you a warning.
So they want to plant trees. How long will it take for that tree to grow to stop a car that is going 70 miles an hour? And now they are wanting to raise the speed limit to 75!!!! GOOD GRIEF GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND!!!!! This highway needs to be looked at NOW before more people are killed. Before more people are injured and do not have the quality of life they had the moment before they got into the car and left their homes. NO ONE should be afraid to drive on K10 and it is coming to that...unless Kansas and the Department of Transportation does something about this horrible mess this highway has become.

meggers 6 years, 1 month ago

Why is K-10 any more dangerous than the many two-lane highways we have in the area? I mean, we're talking about the possibility of someone traveling just a couple of feet into oncoming traffic, as opposed to someone crossing over a grass median and traveling some 25 feet or so to wind up in the wrong lane.

I don't travel K-10 very frequently, so I'm probably missing something. What makes it so much more dangerous than other highways?

beaul 6 years, 1 month ago

For those posting comments about a 140 mph crash. Maybe you didn't see the multiple myth-busters episodes where they debunked that very myth. The damage inflicted on 2 cars colliding head on at 70mph is exactly the same damage as 1 car colliding with an immovable object at 70mph.

Regardless of that, yes 1 car colliding with a tree would be better than crossing over and taking out 1 or more other cars in the process. But think about winter time when you see multiple cars in the median. I wonder how much more damage and lives would be lost with immovable objects in the median. Think about the cars that enter the median but never cross, or cars that cross and never strike anything. Hypothetically If 5 lives are lost every year due to crossovers. And now with immovable median objects 10 lives are lost but none as crossovers. Did we really save anything? Just something to think about, i have no idea on the real data in that area or if it is something that can be tracked.

speak_up 6 years, 1 month ago

True. I was involved in a wreck on K10 where I crossed into the median, but not over into oncoming traffic. I would surely have died if there had been trees in the way. As it was, I escaped with whiplash and one broken bone.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Plant trees and use large chunks of rocks/sandstone that are dug up for whatever reason. Make great use of existing resources. Volunteer trees/wildflowers plus big chunks of sandstone.

And cut out that mowing.

Lets create a safety barrier and save money at the same time.

Zachary Stoltenberg 6 years, 1 month ago

Yup, still idiotic. The state would be sued for having willfully encouraged a hazard the first time someone plows into a line of trees in the median. The cable system is proven, it works. If the state highway department wasn't cheap it would be in already and probably should be. trees.... absolutely idiotic.

coderob 6 years, 1 month ago

I ran their numbers myself and it seems like these barriers are actually worth installing on every single mile of Kansas highways. The study gave a few numbers including 761 miles of Kansas freeway, a cost of $125,000 per mile to install them, a $1,022,700 average loss each time there's a cross median crash, a 20 year lifespan for the project, and 115 cross median crashes over a four year period. That gave me these undiscounted numbers:

Construction costs: $95,125,000 Benefits from accident prevention: $588,052,500

I know the state is cash strapped, but the benefits we would get from making these a Kansas standard on freeways outweigh the costs. Deciding not to put these up is just penny pinching and petty politics.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like they study width and traffic, I hope they start factoring fatalities into that. Those two factors are far from all the factors that impact these crossovers.

I think trees could break up some lines of sight and reduce visibility, which could be dangerous. They may even make it more hazardous to land a helicopter near the road when these accidents do occur. These would have to be fairly close together and it would probably be years before they became strong enough to be effective, not to mention the cost of buying and planting thousands of trees. Impracticable and quite possibly more expensive.

coderob 6 years, 1 month ago

$125,000 is an average cost that comes from the KSDOT study that Mizzou_Jayhawk linked to. But still, if you run the numbers with the $235,000 cost listed for the US-75 project (which likely has some increased costs due to special challenges) you get $178,835,000 in costs. The benefits are still greater.

You're kind of going with a slippery slope argument here, and I'm not quite sure what you do with the 2-lane highways to be honest, but it doesn't hurt to consider improvements. Do you know of any safety measures for 2-lanes that yield similar results after you look at the costs and benefits?

With lane expansion, my hunch is that the cost of land acquisition from converting all of the 2-lane highways into four lane ones with cable median barriers would tip the scales and make the costs greater than benefits. Plus, those 2-lane highways aren't at capacity so you wouldn't get the added benefit of savings in user time that you normally get with expansion projects. Then you have to consider the environmental impacts of adding extra lanes (more impervious surfaces cause flooding, and loss of farmland). Cable barriers don't require land acquisition though. They're a small improvement to existing infrastructure that yield tremendous savings, not a death sentence for rural drivers.

Blessed4x 6 years, 1 month ago

Trees in the median? What the heck is between your ears. The median on K-10 is very wide. Most of the time when a car leaves the roadway, they can recover inside the median and no harm is done beyond some minor vehicular damage. Let's plant trees so EVERY time a vehicle enters the median we end up with vehicular and probably human damage. You simply CANNOT plant trees/allow trees to grow inside of the clear zone on K-10 or for that matter any major divided 4-lane roadway. The cable systems and jersey barriers are designed to slow you down gradually in the case of the cables or to redirect you back into your lane in the case of concrete jersey barriers. I feel terrible for the families that have suffered losses, but if you want to see a real blood bath, by all means, plant trees in the median.

Curtis Lange 6 years, 1 month ago

Since KDOT won't install the cable barriers until some politician's family member passes away in a crossover accident, my vote is for quicksand.

Blessed4x 6 years, 1 month ago

Actually that's not such a bad idea. If you could figure out how to keep it from eroding away, a wide strip of sand or small gravel in the middle of the median would slow vehicles down in the same way that sand pits slow down large trucks whose brakes have overheated on mountain roads. I realize you said it tongue firmly planted in check, but you may have actually hit upon a viable (kind of) solution. It would be far from ideal, but it would function. Currently the best deterent is already being used. The K-10 median is wide and flat, that allows unimpaired drivers to correct and stay in the median without crossing over into oncoming traffic. You can never design anything to accommodate someone on alcohol or drugs.

ferrislives 6 years, 1 month ago

Why can't you plant trees? Florida does it along the entire stretch of Hwy 95.

Curtis Lange 6 years, 1 month ago

The tree idea is pretty laughable IMO. Installing large enough adult Rees along the entire ~25 mile stretch would be more expensive than the cable barriers...

Bob Burton 6 years, 1 month ago

Blind driver lines on the highway work very well.. On 2 lane roads they cut down on head on fatality accidents.. So they should work on the 4 lanes also..

coderob 6 years, 1 month ago

Could you explain blind driver lines?

Curtis Lange 6 years, 1 month ago

Pretty sure those are already on the left hand shoulder of K10.

Joshua Montgomery 6 years, 1 month ago

Wow, the conversation today is pretty adult. I am impressed.

sandw2010 6 years, 1 month ago

How about the safety barriers they use in NASCAR?

sandw2010 6 years, 1 month ago

I thought they were updated since that happened?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.