Archive for Friday, April 29, 2011

Transportation secretary makes case that cable barriers are no ‘silver bullet,’ but announces meetings to study their effectiveness on K-10

April 29, 2011


Jerry Younger, the state's transportation engineer, talks to Ali Shutt of Eudora after a press conference in Olathe about safety measures on Kansas Highway 10. Shutt holds her daughter, Courtlynn, who was injured in an April 16 crash on K-10 that killed her brother, Cainan Shutt, 5.

Jerry Younger, the state's transportation engineer, talks to Ali Shutt of Eudora after a press conference in Olathe about safety measures on Kansas Highway 10. Shutt holds her daughter, Courtlynn, who was injured in an April 16 crash on K-10 that killed her brother, Cainan Shutt, 5.

— Kansas Department of Transportation officials told reporters Friday afternoon that cable median barriers on divided highways weren’t a “silver bullet” in stopping all accidents as the state studies the safety of Kansas Highway 10

“Cable barriers are not benign. They don’t solve all the problems and can in some situations create problems,” KDOT Secretary Deb Miller said Friday. “So our deliberations must center on whether they provide more benefits or create more liabilities. The question isn’t: Do we have the money? The question is: Is this the right strategy?”

Miller and state transportation engineer Jerry Younger spoke to the media days after Gov. Sam Brownback directed Miller to reopen a study into the use of cable barriers on K-10 between Lawrence and Kansas City.

Two Eudora residents, 5-year-old Cainan Shutt and 24-year-old Ryan Pittman, died in a crossover crash east of the Church Street interchange, leading Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson to write a letter to Brownback asking the state to immediately install cable median barriers from Lawrence east to Interstate 435 in Johnson County.

Brownback also directed KDOT to expedite a project to be completed this year to widen the shoulders and install rumble strips along K-10 in Douglas County. Those features are already in place in Johnson County.

Ali Shutt, Cainan Shutt’s mother, after the news conference said her family and supporters were thankful for Brownback’s directive but said the state needed to do more than just install rumble strips on K-10. She said cable barriers would help prevent dangerous cross-median accidents that often result in head-on collisions.

“We realize that this still could cause accidents, but it’s going to save the next person on the other side,” Shutt said.

Miller and Younger said cable median barriers have proven to be effective, especially on Missouri highways, but they said generally Kansas fatalities from cross median crashes have been low compared to other states.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers have said they are still investigating the cause of the April 16 crash, including the possibility that drugs contributed after a preliminary autopsy indicated marijuana, benzodiazepine and methadone were in the system of Pittman who drove the car that struck the westbound minivan Cainan Shutt was riding in.

Miller said KDOT would meet on May 12 with city officials, including from Eudora and Lawrence, to talk about forming a local group to provide input for the cable median study.


Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 1 month ago

Some years ago I talked with a patrol officer assigned to the Kansas Turnpike about how my car was stranded on the turnpike and was no longer running due to a broken timing belt. He remarked that when he had a chance to be assigned to the Kansas Turnpike, he jumped at it, because ever since the median barriers were installed he had just about never had to work a fatal accident. Those bothered him very much, and when he went to work every day before being assigned to the turnpike, he had no idea if or when he would be called to work a fatal accident. Crossovers, well that was usually the reason why.

Those median barriers had pretty much eliminated the problem of fatal accidents on the Kansas Turnpike, although they were very expensive to install along its entire lenght. And he was so glad about that!

AreUKiddingMe 7 years, 1 month ago

As someone who rides a motorcycle, cable barriers scare the living ..... Out of me. If I have to leave the road because someone doesnt see me, you are going to need 2 body bags for me. So the solution? The bet thing I have come up with is one we already use to help stop out of control semis and racecars.
Sandtraps Put a 12ftish ( i am just kinda throwing out lenghts and depths) wide, 4-5 ft deep strip of sand in the middle of the medium. If it can stop a semi or a racecar.... The only other thing i could come up with ( and my guess is the cost would make it out of the question). Are the new walls NASCAR has used since Dale sr. died

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 1 month ago

You might have a point there. When I was riding a motorcycle, ditches served the same purpose for me. I did run into a ditch one time due to a near miss with another vehicle, and I was very lucky to have lived. I was very aware of that at the time and I never, ever drove into a ditch again.

I was 14 at the time.

crazyredneckmomma4 7 years, 1 month ago

I have been a supporter of the median barriers for years and since this most recent accident I was almost obsessed with getting them installed but sand traps sound like a good alternative to the median barriers

Hoots 7 years, 1 month ago

As a fellow rider I'm with you on this one. I see these traps stop F! cars doing over 100 mph all the time. I think the sand/gravel traps are a much safer solution. Those cables look like hell as well. I'm a little sick of people being so fixated on cable barriers when there are much safer solutions.

monkeyspunk 7 years, 1 month ago

As an ardent supporter of a cable barrier on K-10, I had never thought of this and support it as a much safer alternative.

I am curious as to if there are any places in the US where these have been implemented?

walkthehawk 7 years, 1 month ago

I think we all realize that no barrier prevents impaired/distracted/irresponsible driving. What a barrier CAN do, however, is keep that impaired driver on his own side of the road--the idea is to prevent a fatal head-on collision with an innocent (ie, Cainan Shutt) on the other side. If it brought Cainan back, I would volunteer for cable damage to my car. Unfortunately, we can't change what has happened, but we can pay it forward and prevent the next one. Think of your children/grandchildren/what have you, and don't compare a trip to the body shop with an encounter with a body bag.

Deja Coffin 7 years, 1 month ago

It's a start and everyone who believes in this cause needs to just keep fighting for what they believe in. Also I hope that if anything it empowers us to fight for the causes we believe in because it can make a difference.

windjammer 7 years, 1 month ago

What you say we make it a toll road like the Kansas Turnpike. Then we can put up eight foot concrete walls down the middle to I435. Lower the speed limit to 85mph and force all drivers to drive in the left lane. Also all drivers must be on the mobile from Lawrence to Lenexa.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 1 month ago

Of course a motorcycle driver would flip on his head and at highway speeds, probably snap his spine. At the very least, he wouldn't be able to maintain a straight ahead course and therefore flip off to the side of his motorcycle. That idea has never been seriously studied for a reason.

And, as far as your quesiton about sand traps being used to stop semi-trucks anywhere else but in the mountains, the answer is "no".

There are a few videos posted on youtube showing semi-truck drivers being forced to use the sand traps in order to slow their trucks. It's not a very pleasant sight, but on the bright side, most of the drivers survive to tell the story of how terrifying it was.

AreUKiddingMe 7 years, 1 month ago

I have thought about the same 2 questions. 1. I would figure, yes, it would make you flip, but I think I have a higher chance of surviving that than being cut in half. 2. I havnt heard or personally seen them. I was planning on googling that, but havnt had a chance too yet. :)

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't remember a single case of a motorcycle driving clear into the oncoming lanes of K-10 and colliding head on with a larger vehicle.

But, maybe my memory is either faulty or selective.

AreUKiddingMe 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes a motorcycle isn't going to cross clear into oncoming traffic. They will go in to the median because they were avoiding someone who wasn't paying attention or "didn't see them" Worst case, they are thrown that way AFTER someone hits them.

Piper180 7 years, 1 month ago

Michigan Officials Called to Explain Why they Put up Cable Barriers after a fatality - It's not hyperbole. Editorial: Concrete data needed on cable median barriers Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011, 10:02 AM By Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial Board The Kalamazoo Gazette

Cable barriers along Interstate 94 have been damaged by car crashes. There is also concern the barriers may do more harm than good. The cable median guardrails installed along Michigan’s divided highways seem like an answer to a question nobody was asking. But the presence of these barriers along stretches of our major highways is certainly raising questions now among travelers who wonder why they were installed in the first place. A Kalamazoo Gazette report attracted comments from a variety of people reacting to the news of a fatal crash a week ago on Interstate 94 near Paw Paw. Police told staff writer Fritz Klug that the cable barriers played a role in that crash. Lt. Robert Kirk of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office said that, if the high-tension cable barrier hadn’t been there, the disabled car would likely have been in the median instead of presenting an obstruction on the highway. The 2000 Cadillac DeVille was eastbound near mile marker 61 when the driver lost control, slid off the road and hit the cable guard, according to police. The car came to rest sitting sideways on the left lane of the highway. As passengers of the car attempted to push it off the highway, the Cadillac was hit by another eastbound car. A 60-year-old Saginaw woman who was still inside the Cadillac was killed. The cable guardrails were installed in late 2009 on sections of I-94 and U.S. 131 around southwestern Michigan at a cost of about $200,000 per mile, according to Nick Schirripa, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. They are designed to keep cars from crossing the median and striking oncoming traffic, he said. The MDOT worked with the Federal Highway Administration to identify stretches of freeway where cross-median crashes occurred. As transportation and law enforcement officials know, when vehicles veer into oncoming lanes of traffic, the resulting crashes almost always result in fatalities. So the cable guardrails were installed to prevent those fatal accidents. That’s a worthy goal. And no cross-median fatalities have been reported statewide where these cable barriers have been installed. But one of the questions we have is whether the existence of these barriers will ultimately end up creating hazards that result in death, like last Sunday’s crash, and if there might be a better way to accomplish the same objective. I

Danielle Brunin 7 years, 1 month ago

Okay, so I don't know a lot about this subject, would it be possible to place a softer version of the cable median barriers to stop the momentum of the car, but not slice motorcycle riders to pieces, or even on one side of the road with an adjacent concrete barrier in the center median? Does anyone have any knowledge of systems like this? There has to be a way to do both, right?

JerryStubbs 7 years, 1 month ago

If you look at Google maps satellite view you can compare the sizes of various area highways and their medians.

I-435 between KCK and KCI airport has a median about twice as wide as K-10's. I guess they didn't allocate as much land for K-10, not to mention that 435 is 3 and 4 lanes per side in that stretch.

K-10 has a fairly narrow median in comparison.

Not good if you pass out, your gas pedal gets stuck, somebody runs you off the road or it's extremely slick and you lose control.

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

What about polyethylene barricades with water ballast ?

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