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UDOT gets a thumbs-up for safety

National award recognizes Utah County cable barriers

The Utah Department of Transportation was one of 14 state transportation departments that received a national safety award Tuesday.

The award, given by the Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation, recognized the agency for reducing fatalities along I-15 in Utah County with the installation of a temporary cable barrier. The cable barrier was in place between Provo and Lehi for 18 months. In that time, it was hit more than 100 times and prevented over 40 vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic, according to UDOT.

The cable barrier was removed when construction began on the I-15 expansion project in Utah County. Concrete barriers were put in its place. The barrier is now being installed in parts of Provo Canyon.

"We think we saved at least 10 lives and probably more with over 40 potential crossovers that happened," said Tracy Conti, UDOT operations engineer and former Region 3 director. "We feel really good there were no serious injuries out there on a road that has more than 100,000 cars a day on it."

Cable barriers have been installed along west I-215 in Salt Lake County, Cedar City and St. George. The barriers can be used as a replacement to concrete barriers. They work like a giant rubber band, catching a car, stretching, and easing the impact of an accident. Because of the pulling, stretching motion, cable barriers require more of a shoulder than regular concrete barriers, said UDOT spokesman Nile Easton. The barriers were removed along I-15 in Utah County because the shoulder wasn't wide enough with the reconstruction project, he said.

Other state transportation departments that received the Roadway Safety Award include Idaho, Florida and Missouri. Recipients were evaluated on innovation, effectiveness and efficient use of resources, according to a press release.

"The roster of award winners represents the most dynamic and creative highway programs and sets a standard for others to follow," said Greg Cohen, executive director of the Roadway Safety Foundation in a statement.

The I-15 expansion project in Utah County is expected to be completed next spring.