TDOT to spend $4.3 million to remove X-Lite guardrail terminals


Johnson City, TN (WJHL)  — As Tennessee prepares to raise the fuel to fund transportation projects, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is having to spend millions to deal with an unexpected transportation problem.

TDOT will spend more than $4.3 million to remove and replace about 1,800 X-Lite guardrail end terminals statewide because of in-field performance safety concerns.

“We believe in the State of Tennessee that they need to be removed from the system based on our experience,” said Paul Degges, TDOT Chief Engineer.

More than 330 X-Lite terminals are along Tri-Cities roads, according to TDOT records.

Click HERE to see locations of X-Lite terminals in the Tri-Cities.

Guardrail end terminals are the yellow and black striped metal plats that are meant to keep guardrails from piercing a car in a crash.

In recent years, some states have started to question the in-field performance reliability of the terminals made by several manufacturers which have been approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration.

TDOT said four people died in crashes in Tennessee involving X-Lite terminals in the last year.  TDOT’s chief engineer told News Channel 11 those crashes raised concerns within the department that terminals weren’t performing as intended.

“We just haven’t seen that type of result from a guardrail crash really in the history of most of the employees in the department,” Degges said. .

TDOT spent millions of dollars purchasing and installing X-Lite terminals since late 2014.

TDOT said last month there were 1,842 X-Lite terminals statewide. A spokesperson estimated the state spent approximately $2000 per to purchase and install each terminal. That means the state spent at least $3,684,000 to purchase and install the product that’s about to be replaced.

After a request for information from News Channel 11, TDOT said it will spend $4,312,630 to replace the X-Lite terminals. The state estimates $1,234,730 will be spent to replace the terminals here in TDOT’s District 1 – East Tennessee.

TDOT says the money will come from its Maintenance Fund which is comprised of funds from the state’s portion of the tax on fuel.

TDOT made the unprecedented decision to remove the terminals in early 2017. VDOT is removing the X-Lite terminal as part of a guardrail terminal risk-based assessment program. The product continues to be approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration.

Copyright 2017 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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