The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has launched a $27 million project to install double-sided guardrails along state roads to help put an end to crossover crashes and save lives, the Bergen Record reported.
Transportation department crews are erecting steel barriers along more than 110 miles of roadway--including sections of Bergen and Morris counties--to prevent cars and trucks from crossing to the wrong side.
"I just want to be able to save at least one life," NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri told the newspaper. "We could do it by putting in a median barrier."
New medians will separate Rte. 80 in Parsippany and Montville and Rte. 287 in Franklin Lakes and Mahwah, much of which is divided by 40-ft grass slopes. Work is expected to begin this spring to install dual-faced guardrails along the roads.
NJDOT touts the program as part of its "fix-it-first" philosophy.
NJDOT officials say they are focusing on the state's most accident-prone highways, where crossover median accidents have resulted in fatalities. Since 2003, 67 median accidents involving opposing vehicles have occurred and 77 people have died. Median mishaps helped cause accident rates on Rte. 287 in Bergen County to nearly quadruple since 1997, and to nearly double on Rte. 80 in Morris County.
With federal funding for road projects fluctuating, New Jersey does not have the resources "to deal with every segment of every road every day," Kolluri told the newspaper.
"If we could begin to save lives and reduce our maintenance costs, then we're attacking this the right way," said Kolluri, who said it is too early to determine the impact of the program.
Grass medians and concrete walls--otherwise known as "Jersey barriers"--also are not wide or strong enough to separate truck traffic on the fast-moving interstates, NJDOT officials say.