Crews across the state continue to remove and replace a guardrail system taken off the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s supply list nearly a year ago.
Work to remove the X-Lite guardrail end terminal system began in the late spring in Region 1, which covers 24 East Tennessee counties. There TDOT has replaced 201 of X-Lite guardrails out of 579. They expect to finish removing the remaining guardrails by June 2018.
Crews are replacing the end terminals with MASH systems, which follow new federal safety criteria. After an analysis was done, using crash data and the number of fatalities, TDOT made the decision to remove X-Lite guardrails in areas where the speed limit is greater than 45 miles per hour.
TDOT took the X-Lite system off their Qualified Product List on October 25, 2016 because of concerns about long-term performance issues. Most guardrails are constructed in multiple pieces designed to “telescope” or slide into each other when struck and absorb some of the impact.
The state’s concerns about the X-Lite system included issues associated with the telescoping W-beam, slider assembly friction reduction type system.
Over the last year, a Loudon County family has been pushing for the removal of X-Lites. Last November, 17-year old Hannah Eimers, hit the guardrail system in a crash. Her father, Steve Eimers, says the rail pierced the driver side front door, sliced through to the rear passenger door, striking Hannah in the head and chest and thrusting her into the back seat of the car, killing her instantly.
- In Region 2, crews replaced 214 X-Lites out of 696, competed by 6/30/2018.
- In Region 3, crews replaced 91 X-Lites out of 450, completed by 6/30/2018
- In Region 4 (D47/D48), crews replaced 137 X-Lites out of 137.
- In Region 4 (D49), crews replaced 58 X-Lites out of 58.
X-Lite guardrails are made by a Nebraska-based company, Lindsay Corporation. In a statement sent to our newsroom, they say:
“X-Lite has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with federal standards and criteria, and remains eligible for federal transportation funding. There is no road safety equipment that can prevent injury every time a driver fails to stay on the road, but X-Lite has reduced the number and severity of injuries sustained in automobile accidents. A variety of factors contribute to the potential for injury when a driver fails to stay on the road, including speed, the angle at which a vehicle makes impact, and whether road safety equipment is installed and maintained properly.”