The installation of cable barriers in the median of Interstate 40 through Pottawatomie County will eventually continue all the way to the State Highway 18/Harrison Street exit in Shawnee.

The project for this area picks up at the Oklahoma/Pottawatomie County line, where barriers have already been installed. The work is moving eastward.

David Meuser with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said an average of 25,000 to 35,000 vehicles a day travel I-40 between Shawnee and the Oklahoma County line.

Meuser said numerous factors influence where cable barriers are constructed around the state, but primarily, ODOT makes the decision for installation based on the number of fatality and injury crossover accidents.


The installation of cable barriers in the median of Interstate 40 through Pottawatomie County will eventually continue all the way to the State Highway 18/Harrison Street exit in Shawnee.
The project for this area picks up at the Oklahoma/Pottawatomie County line, where barriers have already been installed. The work is moving eastward.
David Meuser with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said an average of 25,000 to 35,000 vehicles a day travel I-40 between Shawnee and the Oklahoma County line.
Meuser said numerous factors influence where cable barriers are constructed around the state, but primarily, ODOT makes the decision for installation based on the number of fatality and injury crossover accidents. If the distance between two directions of traffic is too wide, the barriers are unnecessary, he said, but if the median is very narrow, concrete barriers are often preferred.
Concrete barriers deflect most of the energy from a crash back to the vehicle, he said, while cable barriers can absorb much of the energy from a crash impact.
As a result, serious injuries are less likely with cable barriers because vehicles are less likely to bounce back into traffic after impact, he said. For ODOT, Meuser said one of the advantages of using cable barriers is that when repairs are needed, they can be made quickly.
Meuser said the cable barrier system, when compared to guard rail and concrete median barriers, is the least expensive system to reduce the number of head-on collisions or incidents that involve vehicles leaving the lane.
The cost of the current Pottawatomie County project is $965,872. ODOT awarded the project in July 2007 to Midstate Traffic Control, Inc. of Oklahoma City.
Overall, the cost of a cable barrier system is about 15 percent of the cost of a concrete barrier. He said cable barriers often cost on average about $140,000 per mile; concrete barriers cost $1 million per mile.  
When cable barriers were installed on Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner Parkway in 2001, it was the first pre-stretched, high-tension barrier system in the United States, he said. Before that, this type of cable had been used in Europe.
Since Oklahoma began using these cable barriers, 39 other states have installed the same type or are in the process, Meuser said.
So far in Oklahoma, the barriers have been credited with preventing hundreds of crossover accidents, he said. Combined, the barriers along Lake Hefner Parkway and I-35 in the Norman area have had about 750 known hits, ODOT reports.
“Although the barriers are designed to reduce the likelihood of a crossover incident, driver responsibility remains the most important aspect of accident prevention,” Meuser said.
The current project in Pottawatomie County won’t be completed until after the I-40 bridge replacement at SH 102 is finished sometime this winter, Meuser said, although other factors could delay completion.
“Because the cables are built in the center median, which also provides drainage, construction is heavily impacted by weather, so a final completion date is not yet known,” he said.