FHP: Interstate cable barriers unable to stop large vehicles

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Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:00 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wednesday's tanker truck crash on I-75 in Sarasota caused traffic headaches all across town and left the driver injured.  But some are wondering why the safety cable barrier in the median didn't stop the truck from crossing into oncoming lanes.

Florida Highway Patrol tells ABC 7 that the cables have saved countless lives over the years. But as we saw Wednesday, they did not save the tanker truck heading southbound from crossing over into the northbound lanes.

And while the cables can handle smaller vehicles, FHP troopers admit a commercial vehicle won't be as lucky. “Based on the weight, length and size of that vehicle that came through, our barrier didn't stand a chance. Neither would a small building,” says Trooper Kenn Watson.

In Wednesday’s crash on I-75 in Sarasota, the driver of a fully-loaded tanker truck traveling southbound swerved into the median. The truck crossed right over the cables and across the northbound lanes before crashing on the other side.

“We couldn't even put a (concrete) Jersey barrier up there. A vehicle of that size would plummet right through it,” says Trooper Watson.

The cables on this stretch of I-75 were installed by the Florida Department of Transportation in 2007. Over 33 miles of it was installed in Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties at a cost of $5.3 million.

“It saves lives daily,” says Watson.

Fortunately no one died in this accident. But with the cables unable to withstand the impact of a large truck, the outcome could be much different next time.

Thursday afternoon, crews were still out at the scene of the Wednesday’s crash, trying to get rid of the fuel that spilled onto the surface. They crews should be out there the next day and a half or so.

The good news is that their presence is not impacting traffic in the northbound lanes of I-75.

FHP also says that at this point, there is no evidence to suggest that this tanker crashed as a result of a mechanical issue. They are now investigating the driver.

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