US 395 Cable Barrier

Back in July you may remember that it was announced that Highway 395 through the Carson Valley would be getting a cable barrier installed down the median, to make the roadway safer and protect against crossover accidents on the highway. Well, last month they finally started installing the barrier, starting at the north and heading south. And now large stretches of the barrier are finished near Indian Hills.

My first impression of the barrier is that it’s unflinchingly ugly. I guess it’s functional, and that’s all it needs to be, but it also looks cheap. I surmised over the summer that the only reason they decided on a cable barrier was because of the low cost, and it looks like they settled for the cheapest choice in an already cheap field. The cables look fine, but those posts look like they’d buckle in a stiff Washoe Zephyr, much less in a high-speed collision. The posts are even visibly crooked in many places, like they didn’t even take care to stand them fully upright.

I guess it doesn’t matter, because in an installation like this it looks like all the strength and stopping power rests in the cables, The posts, then, are there for no reason other than to guide the cables where they need to go. So I have no doubts the barrier will do its job, and if your car crashes into it, you’ll stop without ending up in the oncoming lanes. But it looks like sloppy workmanship, and perception is all about the way the thing looks, not the way it functions. Plus, I have to look at this barrier every day, and I was hoping for something a little bit more attractive.

Oh well. The sacrifices we make for safety, I guess.

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