BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has announced plans to install cable barriers along highway medians in Bossier and Webster parishes next year in an effort to reduce fatalities.
At a press conference Tuesday, DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas outlined a project to install cable barriers along approximately 28 miles of Interstate 20 throughout Bossier and Webster parishes. The project is estimated at $4.5 to $5 million.
LeBas says that cable barriers save lives. "The safety of Louisiana citizens is our highest priority," she said.
Cable barriers are designed to prevent head-on collisions by deflecting vehicles that veer into the median from crossing over into incoming traffic. The barriers act as a net to catch vehicles and redirect them into the median, instead of pushing the vehicle back into traffic.
Bids for the project in Bossier and Webster parishes will be taken in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
LeBas says her statewide goal is to install cable barriers over the next five years, including along I-20 from Caddo to Ouachita parishes. LeBas says funding for the project will be 90 percent federal funding and 10 percent state funding.
The project is expected to start in the spring or summer of 2013 and should be completed in about eight months. Bids are being taken now for Caddo Parish.
In the past several years, motor-vehicle fatalities in Louisiana have dropped to an all-time low with a 32 percent reduction in highway fatalities since 2007.
The need for a cable barrier system arose from the 2006 legislative session, when a resolution was passed to look into the feasibility of installing these safety features. Since then, DOTD has installed approximately 81 miles of cable barriers throughout the state at a cost of approximately $11.8 million.
Sen. Robert Adley, Senate chairman of the Transportation, Highway and Public Works Committee, called the announcement "great news for North Louisiana."
On July 6, a crossover accident on I-20 near Haughton claimed two lives. Arien Manshack, 17, and Megan Mote, 16, were killed, and 18-year-old Jonathon Bartley was severely injured; he suffered brain damage and is learning how to walk and talk again. A fourth passenger, Justin Venable, suffered a broken leg.
More recently, on Dec. 13, a 2012 Ford Fusion driven by 25-year-old Michael Hubbard of Shreveport was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 west of Ruston when it crossed the median. The vehicle then struck a westbound 18-wheeler. Wheeler and a passenger were killed, and two other passengers were injured.