The Mayor of Casa Grande is supporting a push to place cable median barriers on Interstate 10 following an ABC15 Operation Safe Roads investigation.
“It’s a dangerous stretch of road, and it’s just too much traffic. It’s not safe,” said Mayor Craig McFarland.
McFarland has written a letter in support of Mike Humphrey, who lost his wife and sister in a cross-median crash in 2008.
Humphrey has been publicly calling for the installation of cable barriers on I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson. Currently, there are almost no median barriers on the busy stretch of highway.
To raise awareness, Humphrey has been speaking at state transportation board hearings and reaching out to local leaders across the region.
McFarland heard him speak at a meeting in June.
“He was presenting at an (Arizona Department of Transportation) meeting,” he said. “When I heard his story, which I had not heard before, it moved me to try and reach out to him. His goal is to make I-10 safe, and my goal is to make I-10 safe. I thought it would be helpful if we worked together.”
Interstate 10 cuts through McFarland's city.
The Mayor said he campaigned on a platform of improving the freeway and making it safer two years ago. His main concern is the width of the highway, which is predominantly just two lanes.
McFarland said it’s too much traffic going too fast for the two lanes.
But official plans to widen I-10 are roughly a decade away.
McFarland is working to expedite that, but he believes cable barriers could help improve safety in the interim.
“We need to do whatever we can to make (residents) safe,” he said. “And if this helps, then it’s worth it.”
In late May, an ABC15 Operation Safe Roads investigation revealed that nearly 150 cross-median crashes have occurred on a pair of 20-mile stretches since 2001.
Those crashes have led to at least 150 injuries and 46 deaths.
ABC15’s report also highlighted Humphrey’s long, expensive legal battle with the State of Arizona over his family’s deaths.
The case is currently tied up on appeal after a jury issued a $40 million verdict.
The jury believed the Arizona Department of Transportation should have had cables along the stretch of I-10 based on the highway’s crash history.
But despite the verdict, ADOT believes installing cable barriers on Interstate 10 and other Arizona highways will cause more harm than good.
Steven Boschen, an ADOT assistant director, said that cross-median crashes are rare and unpredictable, accounting for about one percent of fatalities.
He also said the interstate’s 80-foot dirt medians are the safest option out there.
“By putting up cable barriers we would be causing more harm than good,” Boschen said. “If we put a barrier out there, we are just introducing more harm. A barrier is actually a hazard, and there would be more crashes.”
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.