The cable barriers along Interstate 85 may be “ugly,” but they recently saved quite a few lives and spared many individuals from injury.
Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a crane — which was being driven near exit 137 on I-85 in Jefferson — left the roadway and wound up in the median.
“The driver of the crane got out and told the (Georgia Department of Transportation) guys that the cable barrier saved his life — it stopped him from going into southbound traffic,” said Teri Pope, GDOT spokeswoman.
“He said that there was a tractor trailer coming and he would’ve hit it if the cable hadn’t held him back. We get complaints sometimes that the cable barrier is ugly and we should take them down.
“I tell people that it doesn’t matter if they are ugly — they save lives.”
Instead of the entire crane rolling across the median into incoming traffic, the barrier restrained the crane and only a portion of it landed in the southbound lanes.
Around 800 feet of the cable barrier was damaged during the accident, as was around 200 feet of asphalt in the southbound lanes.
Immediately following the accident, southbound traffic was detoured up the exit ramp, across U.S. 129 and back onto I-85 via the entrance ramp. The lanes were re-opened Tuesday night after temporary repairs were made.
GDOT crews planned to begin the permanent corrections this morning, if the weather permits.
While drivers will have access to I-85 south throughout the day, drivers are warned to avoid the area if possible between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. GDOT crews will close one southbound lane at a time. The closures will begin and end around a half-a-mile north and south of exit 137.
“There is no telling the damage, the injuries, the fatalities that would’ve occurred if the crane had crossed over the median and hit southbound traffic head on,” Pope said.
“It was just after 5 p.m. rush hour — the damage would’ve been massive at least. The road, the cable barrier and the crane were the only damages — proof that the cable barriers are working and worth their cost.”
According to Pope, it costs around $328,000 to install just one mile of the cable barrier. GDOT plans to add the barrier to all “high volume corridors” that only have a grass median.
Locally, there are barriers along portions of State Route 400, State Route 20, I-985 and I-85.