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Accident Prompts Massive Inspection Of Guardrails On Colorado Roads

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) - The Colorado Department of Transportation is halfway through reviewing over 42,000 guardrail connections.

An accident near Johnstown on Interstate 25 over the summer exposed a problem between guardrails and their endcaps.

(credit: CBS)

"The guardrail instead of diverting and deflecting actually penetrated the cabin and caused her significant injuries," said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt.

The accident exposed an issue within CDOT where guardrails involved in accidents weren't fixed properly. CDOT uses two different guardrail manufacturers, and while their parts are compatible, mixing and matching the end pieces with steel beams makes the guardrail ineffective.

(credit: CBS)

"Those two pieces fit together but they do not function together," Bhatt said. "They've been hit, and they have been replaced by our forces and those installations are potentially not correct and that is the issue."

There are 21,000 guardrails in Colorado and each has two endcaps. All of that is being inspected. CDOT says it started sending maintenance crews to check the guardrails last week and expects to be completed early next week. So far 144 endcaps have been found to violate proper installation.

(credit: CBS)

An official with the Federal Highway Administration said there haven't been any other reported issues of mixing manufacturing pieces in the rest of the country.

"I don't think there is an immediate threat to the public with this," Bhatt said. "I would characterize it as a low risk."

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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