To reduce frequency of head on collisions on highway 26, beginning in the summer of 2007 ODOT began installing cables separating east and west bound traffic on highway 26.Cable barriers were fully in place by winter 2009/10 running from milepost 30 to 33 with a quarter mile opening in the middle. This section of Highway 26 is situated between Weber Road and the west end of Cherryville Drive and from Batty/Terra Fern to the east end of the Cherryville Drive loop.
The barriers are comprised of three woven steel cables hanging loosely on steel posts spaced about 10 feet apart, anchored in concrete on both ends. Posts are designed to collapse upon vehicular impact positioning cables to absorb the inertia, hopefully preventing a centerline crossover then snapping the vehicle back. Barrier manufacturer Trinity Highway Products LLC, of Texas claims the system can withstand an 18,000-pound truck traveling at 50 mph at a 20-degree angle. The barriers are among the first of their kind in the United States. The project cost about $1.56-million.
During the six years before the barrier’s installation, 69 percent of crashes there resulted injury, according to Dave Thompson of ODOT. In 10 crashes recorded after the barriers went up in late summer 2007 — an admittedly small sample size, Thompson cautioned — none resulted in injuries. Concerns that the cable barriers might emergency responder access have been raised. So far, responders have been able to coordinate accident approaches, to minimize that problem. Many emergency tools are too simply too large to reach vehicles beyond the cables. In any event, Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings believes the barriers have been , “very helpful in preventing crossover crashes“.