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Cable barriers prevent drivers from crossing median

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A cable barrier system used for the first time in this country has prevented 14 vehicles from crossing into oncoming traffic on Lake Hefner Parkway, authorities said.

The new cable system was installed two months ago. Since then, 14 drivers have struck the cables, said Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Angier said the system has prevented possible fatalities on the busy roadway.

Each time a vehicle struck the cables, the system prevented the vehicle from crossing the median. All 14 vehicles were stopped or the driver was able to regain control and steer back onto the highway, Angier said.

``A lot of these would have been crossovers if not for the cable,'' Angier said.

The Lake Hefner Parkway often was the scene of fatal wrecks because of crossover accidents.

City Councilman Guy Liebmann said he had feared an entire family might be killed someday in a crossover accident on the Lake Hefner Parkway. But the cables have been ``well accepted and well tested,'' he said.

The Brifen cable system, first used in Europe, cost $1.2 million. It was installed on a seven-mile stretch of the parkway from Memorial Road to near the NW 39 Expressway.

The system, manufactured in Britain, uses four strands of ``wire rope'' linked to galvanized steel anchors to separate opposing streams of traffic. The strands are pre-stressed and can sustain multiple hits before they require repair.

The poles anchoring the cables usually have to be replaced when hit, Angier said. In one accident, a vehicle took out 20 poles, she said.

But repairing the cables is less costly and much easier than repairing damaged concrete barriers or guard rails, Angier said. The cables usually are back in place within two hours of an accident, she said.

Transportation officials plan to install the cable system on other state roadways, but it might be at least 10 months before that will happen, Angier said. The system must be tested for one year before the Federal Highway Administration would approve it for use on other highways, she said.

``So far, we've been very pleased,'' Angier said. ``The feds are extremely optimistic about how it has done.''
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