Nebraska Department of Transportation installing new medians

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is trying to curb the number of accidents on I-80 with a new pilot program.
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2022 at 12:26 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - There have been more than 140 accidents in a 20 mile stretch on I-80 just west of Lincoln in five years, so the Nebraska Department of Transportation is trying to curb that number with a new pilot program.

NDOT is installing cable median barriers from Pleasantdale to Utica to prevent vehicles from crossing the median. Of the 140 accidents on I-80 between Pleasantdale and Utica, 30 crossed the median into the opposite side of traffic and five resulted in death.

NDOT has installed rumble strips, guard rails and experimented with a lot more to prevent accidents, but other states have seen positive results with the cable median barriers, so they chose this pilot program after years of research.

“These devices are designed to basically redirect vehicles from continuing in their path back to what we would hope to be a safe stoppage,” said Khalil Jaber, deputy director of engineering with NDOT.

The medians currently being installed are three-strand cables. Jaber says some states have a different amount of cable, but Nebraska’s medians are about 64 feet wide from the edge of the driving lane to the opposite edge, so they discovered three strands is best for I-80 in Nebraska.

The cost is about $250,000 a mile, so $10 million in total for this pilot program. The highway safety funds will pay for it, but Jaber says they can recover the cost in two years. He said it’s not about recovering the money, it’s about saving lives.

“We weren’t really focused on the cost as much as the benefit. It far exceeds what the investment we’re trying to do, and besides that economic loss, it’s a loss to society. It’s huge in this case,” Jaber said.

NDOT will monitor this pilot program for at least three years. If they get positive results, if there’s less accidents, they’ll consider installing more across Nebraska.

“We do think the analysis is going to show that it’s going to reduce those crashes tremendously,” Jaber said.

Jaber says NDOT works to be a zero-death agency, but it’s also important that drivers make sure they are focused on the road and driving safely with no distractions.

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