Guardrail safety in question along federal highways

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Certain guardrails lining federal highways in Connecticut, and throughout the country, may be giving drivers a false sense of roadside security.

The Department of Transportation said there are about 200 ET-Plus model guardrails in the state.

The guardrails are under the microscope due to their “end terminals,” also called “heads.”

Their safety is in question because the guide channels on the heads are four inches wide, when the previous design was five inches.

Tuesday, a federal jury in Texas returned a $525 million verdict against Trinity Highway Products, the guardrail’s manufacturer, for not adequately notifying the federal government of the design change.

That change is being blamed for deaths and serious injuries in other parts of the country.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is calling on the Federal Highway Administration to provide funds and reimbursements to states to replace the guardrails immediately.

“It will jam, and it will create in effect a projectile that goes into the car like a harpoon or a sword, slicing through the car…instead of absorbing the shock,” Sen. Blumenthal said.

Until it hears more from the federal government, the DOT said it has put a moratorium on installing new ET-Plus guardrails in Connecticut.

The DOT said it has other guardrails to chose from.


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