A west side highway project is adding to an ongoing effort that officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation say is saving lives.
INDOT crews will be working to reinstall a cable barrier in the median of I-74, just west of I-465. The work will extend out to the area of Dandy Trail, where an existing barrier continues further west.
The barrier is replacing one that was taken down during the building of the new interchange at I-74 and I-465.
Construction of the barrier is expected to restrict traffic on I-74 between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the next couple weeks. But safety experts say the traffic tie-ups are worth the lives being saved by the cable barriers around the state.
The barriers are designed to prevent some of the worst highway crashes: high-speed, head-on collisions.
“At locations where we see the highest traffic counts, and the highest probability and crash history for those median cross over type collisions,” said INDOT spokesman Nathan Riggs.
INDOT has been testing and installing the barriers since 2005.
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana traffic deaths have been trending downward since that time. In 2005, Indiana saw 939 traffic deaths. That number has been declining each year, down to fewer than 700 in 2011, and 2012 so far.
The added safety does come at a price. Since 2005, INDOT has spent about $30 million installing 355 miles of cable barriers on medians around the state.
Transportation officials say there are still about 340 miles of Indiana medians that could be covered by cable barriers. There’s no solid timeline for covering all those miles, but Riggs said plans are in the works for making progress.
“We’re looking at 130 additional miles within the next couple of years hopefully,” he said.