Cable barriers being installed on six miles of Interstate 65

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State contract authorized 28 miles of added protection

By The Staff

Landmark News Service

Workers say drivers northbound from Elizabethtown will be protected in April by a six-mile stretch of cable to their left between mile-point 109 and Exit 116 at Shepherdsville.

From there, concrete median barrier protects drivers from median crossover crashes through to Indiana.

Before rain stalled progress, crews with Nationwide Construction Group, which last year was awarded a state contract to install 27 miles of cable barrier north and south of Elizabethtown, were getting the interior northbound shoulder prepped for installation of the guideposts and anchors that hold the cable.

“We should have all the posts in by next week,” project supervisor Steve Morris said Monday. “It needs five days to set after that, before we hang the cable.”

Morris said installing barrier posts into a concrete shoulder differs from that done at other cable barrier sites, where posts are installed in dirt.

Twenty-eight miles of cable will be installed in Bullitt, Jefferson, LaRue, Hart and Barren counties, along I-65. Concrete barriers also will be used to prevent median crossover crashes.

The installation is going well, despite the need to use a Bobcat-driven foot-wide hole-saw to remove the cores, Morris said.

With cores removed, an auger drills down a few feet to reach proper depth for setting guidepost sleeves. Anchors for the cable fence barrier are set at 11 feet below the surface at each end of cable spans, Morris said.

“These work really good,” Morris said. “Maintenance isn’t an issue. That’s why so many states are going to cable instead of guardrail. Once guardrail is hit, it has to be removed and replaced.”

Cable barrier, however, can be maintained – tightened to specifications at turnbuckles after each impact.

Guide posts damaged in collisions can be removed from a sleeve and replaced with new posts made in Kentucky and galvanized at a Louisville plant, according to Rocky Nelson, owner of a Louisville manufacturer of the guide posts.

According to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 5 spokeswoman Andrea Clifford, cable median barrier around Louisville has absorbed more than 500 impacts since first installed in 2006. More than 400 median crossovers have been prevented and only two vehicles – one a tractor-trailer – have passed through the barrier, Clifford said.

Minnesota-based Nationwide, currently doing all cable barrier work along I-65, except two 8-mile stretches in Hardin County, has installed barrier in 15 states, Morris said.

When a vehicle impacts the cable, Morris said the cable gives, absorbing inertial forces, and redirects the vehicle to the direction it should be heading instead of into the oncoming lane on the other side of a grassy depressed median.

Last year, a five-fatality median crossover took the lives of two Elizabethtown women and a Logan County family of three. The crash, along with several other median crossover fatalities the previous year, prompted Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to announce the $10 million, 44-mile cable barrier project for I-65 and parts of Louisville highway around the city.

Nationwide Safety Manager Allan “A.J.” Reyes said crews want motorists to slow down when passing through the construction zone. No decreased speed limit signs have been posted in the six-mile construction area, but Reyes said northbound I-65 motorists, which flash past the construction crews only a yard or two away, are not even following the posted speed limit.

“They’re not doing 70 (mph),” Reyes said. “It’s more like 80.”