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Cable fencing on I-5 is to prevent 'crossover crashes'

Seeing plenty of fencing going up in the I-5 median out toward Ashland. I assume it's to prevent U-turns by freeway drivers. Is that the case? How long is this fence line going to be, and how much does it cost?

— No name given

Oregon Department of Transportation officials say the cable rail installation is a small part of a $5.9 million I-5 paving project. The paving portion included I-5 stretches and ramps, except for Exit 24. The cable rail, included in the second half of the project, will be installed between mileposts 11 and 27.

The cable is being installed to prevent what ODOT officials refer to as "crossover crashes," or crashes where drivers veer off the freeway and cross the median to the other side, where they can cause a head-on collision.

"Head-on collisions at those speeds are almost always fatal," ODOT spokesman Jared Castle said.

The cable is strong enough to prevent vehicles from smashing through, and it's also an easy component to replace.

"Installation costs are relatively inexpensive compared to concrete and metal beam barriers, and repair and maintenance costs can be offset by safety benefits," a summary from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration website said.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.