Texas Department of Transportation, TxDOT, has revealed plans for safety lighting to be installed at area highway intersections as well as safety cable systems to help prevent head-on accidents.
According to Marcus Sandifer, TxDOT public information officer for the Atlanta District, eight intersections in the northeast Texas area will receive improved lighting systems during the upcoming year. The plans were approved this month.
One of those intersections scheduled for lighting additions is in Harrison County and the other is in neighboring Marion County. The intersection scheduled for improved lighting in Harrison County is State Highway 43 at Farm-to-Market Road 2625. The one in Marion is at FM 248 at FM 2683.
“Nighttime lighting systems at the intersections that will have energy efficient LED lighting and will better illuminate the roadways,” Rebecca Wells, Director of Transportation Operations for TxDOT in Atlanta, said in a statement. “The LED lights are brighter and more cost efficient than our old lighting systems.”
Sandifer noted that work on the projects should begin in March and take about a year to complete.
Sandifer noted that a new safety cable system will be erected in the highway medians on U.S. Highway 59 to help prevent head-on collisions. Plans were approved in November for the cable barriers to be installed over the next few months along six areas of U.S. 59 in Harrison, Marion, Panola, Bowie and Cass Counties.
“Head-on accidents caused by vehicles crossing the median on divided highway systems can be some of the deadliest,” Sandifer indicated. “A new safety cable system being installed in the median between opposing lanes of traffic hopes to drastically reduce the likelihood of these type accidents.”
In Harrison County, cable barriers will be placed, starting 1 mile south of FM 1997 to FM 1793; and from FM 1186 to the Panola County line. In Marion County, the cable barrier will start from Cass County line to 2 miles north of State Highway 49. In Panola County, the cable barrier will start from the Harrison County line to Loop 149.
Wendy Starkes, area engineer for TxDOT in Marshall explained that the safety cable system has three to four strands of ¾-inch high tension cable that are supported by metal posts.
“The cables are suspended up to 30 inches above the ground and are intended to catch vehicles in the median before they get into oncoming traffic,” Starkes stated in a press release. “Although no system can prevent all crossover accidents, this new cable system looks very promising in preventing most and has been tested to hold back even a semi-truck when hit at a glancing blow.”
Work on the project is expected to begin in February 2021 and take about 18 months to complete, Starkes said.
Sandifer pointed out the advantages the new cable system has compared to the typical concrete median barrier.
“The primary advantage is cost—concrete barriers can cost more than twice as much, so funding for this type project can go more than twice as far in erecting safety barriers,” he noted. “The cable system also has more give, slowing the vehicle down more gradually and is less likely to cause vehicles to ricochet back into traffic.”
Another plus is the maintenance. Starkes said the cables rarely ever break during crashes and the posts are easily replaced to quickly repair the system.
Sandifer said H.V. Caver Inc., of Atlanta, was awarded the contract for the project with a low bid of $4.4 million. Highway Intelligent Traffic Solutions, Inc. of Cedar Hill, was awarded the contract for the safety lighting projects with a bid of $1.1 million.