Thursday, March 24, 2011
Safety project in progress on 78
By SUE WATSON
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is placing median cable guard-rail barriers along the Highway 78 corridor from the Tennessee line to the Alabama line.
Work has begun on 16.9 miles of a portion that starts in DeSoto County and extends through Marshall County, according to Mike Tagert, commissioner of transportation for the Northern District.
The funding for this safety project districtwide is some $12.6 million, with the most going to U.S. 78 (Future I-22), he said. The money is coming through federal highway safety funds.
“We determined locations for which we can maximize the money and get started on some of the more dangerous sections of highway in the state,” Tagert said. “As one section of highway is completed, another section of U.S. 78 will begin.”
The cable barrier is proven to prevent intentional crossing of the median, accidental crossovers into oncoming traffic and head-on collisions. The barriers, when finished, will be constructed of steel wire ropes mounted onto posts in the shoulder area of the inside lanes.
The cable allows the impact to be distributed laterally along the wire to absorb the force of contact. The barriers are designed to produce a softer impact than concrete.
Called Median Man, the cable system is expected to reduce across-the-median crashes by 90 percent. Cable barrier costs about one-third as much as the cost of steel guard rail and one-fourth the cost of concrete barrier, according to Internet sources.
The cable barrier is the most cost-efficient and effective type of construction to prevent fatal collisions, the commissioner said.
The barriers can be placed on eligible limited-access highways, that is, highways that do not allow entry and exit to the highway except at interchanges.
Other projects North Mississippi counties can look forward to include milling and overlay of some highway sections, milling and overlay of some ramps, and fencing on the future I-22 corridor, Tagert said. Addition of guard rails over bridges is also an ongoing project.
The rubblization – crushing of existing concrete paving in situ for use as a high-quality aggregate base – and overlay of 14.7 miles of U.S. 78 is a major reconstruction project. Tagert said the work will start at the Coldwater River in DeSoto County and extend to the West Holly Springs Exit. That stretch of highway was built with concrete. The completion date is 2013 and some $39 million will be spent to restore that stretch of highway.
Another project in the planning phase consists of 16.7 miles in Marshall County to be let in May, that involves complete milling and overlay of ramp extensions and some fencing, the commissioner said.
Also, MDOT is putting in new guard rails over 23 bridge sites in Marshall and Benton counties along Highway 78, Tagert said. That work is expected to be completed in June.
The commissioner said there is a lot of attention going to the highway system in the Northern District since it is such an actively growing area and requires a lot of work.
“Certainly, the Blue Springs facility, as well as other development projects and the amount of freight coming in and out of the region, warrants attention to the North Mississippi region,” he said.
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