Interstate 20 through McDuffie County just got a little safer. The Georgia Department of Transportation is erecting a cable rail fence barrier in the median of the roadway to help prevent collisions between traffic heading in opposite directions.
The DOT contracted with Bagwell Fence Company to construct the nearly $3 million fence through Columbia, Warren and McDuffie Counties. That's 29.52 miles of cable and guard rail from Georgia Highway 80 in Warren County to the Richmond County line.
Workers pour cement for the support beams of the new barriers along Interstate 20.
The fence, funded 90 percent by Federal money and 10 percent from state money, has a proven record of decreasing accidents, according to Vonda Everett, communications officer for the DOT District Two office.
"When a vehicle leaves the road and crosses the median, there is a high probability that it will hit one or more oncoming vehicles which is more severe than most crashes," Ms. Everett said. "A cable median barrier and other types of median barriers (concrete or guardrail) are designed to prevent vehicles from crossing the median into head-on traffic."
Between 2002 and 2003, there were 80 interstate crossover deaths in Georgia. South Carolina currently has barriers similar to the ones under construction that have - according to federal statistics - prevented more than 99 percent of vehicles striking them from traveling into oncoming traffic.
The median project started a couple of years ago when the DOT developed a Safety Action Plan aimed at reducing the number of motorists who leave the roadway. One piece of that plan included cable barrier systems along the interstates.
Work began on the project in early September 2005 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of September 2006.
Morris News Service reports were used in this article.