AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just this year, there have been 11 deadly pedestrian crashes on Interstate 35, many of those deaths resulted after someone tried to cross the interstate.
But as Erica Brennes reports, in the areas where the Texas Department of Transportation has installed new pedestrian barriers, there has been an 89% reduction in crashes involving pedestrians.
“They don’t realize how fast those vehicles are moving, and that you can’t outrun them. And so it’s very dangerous if you cross 35,” said Bradley Wheelis, a Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation.
It goes without saying, crossing a major highway on foot is never a good idea, but some people try it anyway.
Wheelis said, “You look at that concrete barrier that’s three feet high, and you think, yeah, I can jump right over that and get across the highway. When that becomes five feet, that’s a challenge. And people say, okay, I’m not going to attempt that. And so we’ve seen the results of this, and that is that the pedestrian barrier does work.”
In 2020, TxDOT added a two-foot tall panel on top of the three-foot tall center median concrete barrier along the 3 ½-mile stretch of I-35 between 51st Street and Rundberg Lane.
It’s resulted in a 89% reduction in crashes involving pedestrians.
Starting next year, TxDOT will be adding those five-foot tall barriers to another 21 miles of I-35.
“Nothing is 100%, but we have seen the results. And this is a major deterrent. I cannot stress enough that people need to stay off the highway on foot. If you break down, get to the side of the road as quickly as you can or stay in your vehicle. If you’re in the center median, stay in your car and call for help. It’s very important that people know that any attempt across a major highway like 35 on foot is very risky, and it can be deadly,” says Wheelis.
Eventually, you’ll see the extended barriers on stretches from SH-45 down south all the way to SH-45 up north.
It has been more than 22 years since Texas has had a day without a deadly crash on our roads.