A groundbreaking ceremony was held this past week in honor of the new $4.1 million project, which will enable cable median barriers to stretch across the I-20 corridor.
Bossier and Webster parish will be the first to have 28 miles of cable barriers making roadways safer for travel.
Sherri H. LeBas, Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), presented the public address along with Senator Robert Adley, senate chairman of the Transportation, Highway and Public Works Committee, and other local and state officials.
The new project will install over 160 miles of cable barriers reaching from the Texas state line to the Mississippi state line and is estimated to complete by Fall 2014.
Overall, the project will cost approximately $26.2 million and is part of LeBas’s three year plan that will accomplish more cable barriers from Caddo to Ouachita parish.
Statistics show that once cable median barriers are installed, the survival rate increases at an all-time-high of 90 percent.
These net-like barriers are constructed to prevent head-on collisions between vehicles crossing over into the other median into oncoming traffic while also catching the vehicle from going back out into traffic altogether.
Rebecca Bartley was present at the ceremony in honor of her son, Jonathon Bartley, who was severely injured and suffered brain damage due to a head-on collision that occurred on I-20 last July.
“God took two angels that day but also saved two angels that day.” Bartley said. “Lives will be saved and it means that another family will not have to go through what our family has gone through with the worry, heartache, pain and suffering.”
Teenagers Megan Mote, 16, and Arien Manshack, 17, were killed on impact while Bartley and other survivor Justin Venable, 17, are living proof of this tragedy.
“We appreciate you being here to see our efforts,” Senator Adley said. “It is a great day and also a sad day. I came today to express and look at you and say as someone who has a lost a child themselves through tragedy, I wish I could remove your pain.”
“I know that I cannot do that, but I can do what I can to make sure it does not happen again and may God bless you.”
LeBas notes that safety is the number one priority of the DOTD to ensure to maintain our roadways, bridges, potholes, also keeping striping bright and visible, signing and various other factors.
“I am so impressed first that they came, I hope that it gives them some hope and feelings that they’ve done something to help.” Secretary LeBas said. “I hope they feel some comfort today even if it’s a minimal amount of comfort and what them to know that their pain is not going unnoticed.”
“It is all about moving forward from here.”
LeBas mentions that the DOTD encourages citizens toparticipate and do their part to minimize distractions such as drinking and driving, texting and driving, wearing seatbelts, etc.
“One split second can make a difference in losing a life.” Secretary LeBas said.
State Representative Henry Burns, R-Haughton, added that it will save the innocent bystander from a head-on collision.
“Unfortunately, what finally addresses this issue is tragedy.” Representative Burns said. “A complicated mix of factors occurred to move forward to this point where we are at now to eliminate this tragedy from happening to other families. I know how important the safety initiative is in this area.”
The funding accessed for this project will consist of a combination of federal and state funding, while being the majority of federal funding.
Since the installation of cable barriers along I-10 and I-12 in the past, there have been no incidents of vehicles breaking the barriers into the other side of the median. Motor vehicle facilities have reduced to 32 percent in highway accidents since 2007.
“My daughter is alive today because of cable barriers.” Jimmy Cochran, Bossier Police Jury President, said. “Five years ago her vehicles swerved off the road and she would have gone all the way across the median if it were not for those cable barriers.”
“We wondered why they would spend so much money on the project but I am living proof since my daughter is alive.”
DOTD has installed approximately 81 miles of cable barriers costing approximately $11.8 million after a resolution was legislated in 2006.
Over 2,100 miles of center line rumble strips and roundabouts have been installed, managing traffic and bridge maintenance has been put into action. Public awareness campaigns with federal safety partners and state and local law enforcement promote safety throughout the area.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.