As traffic volumes have grown, Minnesota has experienced an increase in cross-median crashes. The Minnesota Department of Transportation installed cable median barriers to prevent cross-median crashes as part of the Hwy 52 resurfacing project last summer. The cable installation begins north of 75th St. up to Zumbrota.
Annual maintenance costs about $3,600 per mile to maintain the barrier system and usually takes one day to fix cables, unlike steel guard rails, which require more intensive work. Mike Dougherty, MnDOT Dist. 6 Public Affairs Coordinator, says the annual material and installation costs for cable median barriers is $150,000 per mile.
"It's relatively inexpensive for the life-saving aspect that we get," said Dougherty. "If you were to put in a concrete barrier, that's about 500,000 per mile. Its got good value for money, but we feel the higher value is the human life that it has the potential value to save."
MnDOT is conducting a study on the effectiveness of cable median barriers. Preliminary data indicate that no fatal cross-median crashes have occurred at these locations since their installation.
Cable median barriers can reduce fatal crashes by 95 percent and since the first installation in 2004, it saved approximately 80 lives in Minnesota to date, according to MnDOT.
Dougherty says one last stretch will be installed on I-35 this summer from the Iowa border up to the Twin Cities.