The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has installed hundreds of miles of high-tension cable median barrier (CMB) as a safety innovation. The usage of CMB aids in the prevention of crossover crashes, where a vehicle departs the roadway on the left shoulder, crosses the median, and enters the opposing lane(s) of traffic. KYTC officials have questioned whether all three barrier products perform similarly. Some installed cable barrier systems have lost tension across the entire cable length after a single vehicle impact. If a second vehicle were to strike the cable barrier system in a location other than the damaged area of the first vehicle’s crash, ideally, the high-tension cable barrier system should continue to prevent errant vehicles from crossing the median and causing a head-on collision. The goal of this research was to improve the safety and effectiveness of Kentucky’s cable barrier systems by reviewing state DOT best practices for cable barrier, conducting on-site evaluation of current cable barrier installations, and examining crash data. The research team analyzed each CMB vendor product’s performance and maintenance requirements, and recommended modifications to KYTC policies, specifications, and maintenance procedures. The study showed that CMB systems have decreased crossover crashes in Kentucky, which warrants the continued use of high-tension cable barrier across the state. One recommendation of the study is to institute and enforce tension-monitoring programs, as applicable, for both annual inspections and after repairs.

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© 2017 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

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The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Transportation Center, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the United States Department of Transportation, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The inclusion of manufacturer names or trade names is for identification purposes and should not be considered an endorsement.