VDOT installs new guardrail on I-581

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The Virginia Department of Transportation is installing high-tension cable guardrail on I-581 in Roanoke. The goal is to reduce the number and severity of crashes, by preventing vehicles from crossing the median.

Between November 2012 and December 2017, VDOT reports 26 crashes on I-581, in which vehicles went into or through the median.

Five of those incidents involved a fatality or severe injury.

For the last several months, crews have been installing the cable guard rail in the median between Peters Creek Road and Liberty Road. And the work should be completed this fall.

"We do have some very flat and level places, so yes when a car veers off the road there is more of a possibility that nothing is there to stop it," said VDOT spokesperson Jen Ward. "But there's also a tendency for people to drive more distracted, because its a flat surface and they kind of feel like I'm just going straight ahead. I don't have to pay attention to the road as much."

Ward says the cable guard rail is more effective at stopping tractor trailers than traditional metal guard rail. And it's less expensive.

"We'll be happy when it starts to show its worth," Ward told WDBJ7, "and showing that those crossovers are being eliminated."