Kentucky joins other states in banning controversial guardrail - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky joins other states in banning controversial guardrail

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky transportation officials have banned contractors from installing a guardrail linked to safety concerns in other states.

The move comes as other states also are banning the ET-Plus guardrail “end treatment” made by Trinity Highway Products of Dallas.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet doesn't know exactly how many pieces of the guardrail – alleged to be defective, spearing some vehicles during collisions – are on state roadways. Wolfe said that information is kept by individual highway department districts on a project-by-project basis.

“There's a lot of it out there, it's safe to say,” he said.

Wolfe said the state highway engineer's office indicated “there have been no safety issues” with the guardrail in Kentucky “to our knowledge.” However, in a federal lawsuit filed in Texas two years ago, a Virginia man claimed he had firsthand knowledge of deaths linked to the defective guardrail in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and "possibly" Texas.

Joshua Harman also said in court documents that he witnessed the guardrail head not work properly in more than 100 accidents. He claimed Trinity never received federal approval to modify the device and alleged that once it was changed – essentially made smaller – the head “acted like a spear” during collisions with vehicles.

A federal jury last month awarded $175 million in damages in the Texas lawsuit, saying Trinity violated the U.S. False Claims Act.

Kentucky's ban comes as the Federal Highway Administration has ordered a round of new crash tests for the guardrail, according to the cabinet. Trinity was slapped with a $175 million verdict by a federal jury in October for lying to federal officials.

“Like all the other states in FHWA, we're eager to learn the results of the testing,” Wolfe said.

Kentucky lawmakers have pushed for increased funding for the state's budget for guardrail repairs, which stood at less than $1 million last year.  It's estimated that nearly 300 miles of new guardrails are needed statewide.

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