Scant information on social media sites indicates that a transport truck may have crossed through the high-tension median cable barrier of Highway 401 near Bloomfield Road, Chatham, yesterday, March 12, 2019. A photo posted by Matt Lajoie shows the damaged left front wheel area of such a truck along with a comment: “It appears as if the truck blew a steer tire and lost control”. The photo can be seen below.
Although there does not appear to be any significant damage to the truck, and injuries may not have occurred, there is a bigger issue here.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is completing the installation of a high-tension median cable barrier along the 118 kilometre distance between Tilbury and London, Ontario. There has been local concern about the effectiveness of this barrier versus a concrete Jersey-type barrier that exists throughout the length of Highway 401. Meetings have been held where the Ministry has explained the safety of that installation while local groups still remain concerned. It has been the opinion of Gorski Consulting that during this time of unease documentation of the in-service performance of the barrier should be made available to the public. This means that when the barrier is struck some information should be made available whether it has performed properly. But this is not what is occurring. As can be seen from this latest (possible?) incident, very little information is being passed on to the public. Indeed, if the pictured truck did pass through the cable barrier this should demonstrate a failure of the system and should be of concern. Failure to make that known to the public will not be seen well and will not generate the public’s confidence that the Ministry needs. The worst approach is to hide any failures.
At a minimum, officials who know what actually occurred should be prepared to respond on social media and quell any unwarranted speculation if it is in error. But silence on this issue is not going to bode well.
UPDATE: March 18, 2019; 0810 Hours
After further discussions and research it is believed that the high tension cable barrier installation had not reached the location where this incident allegedly occurred. It is still unclear whether the transport truck simply blew a left front steering tire and simply came to a stop or if it crossed the median as suggested on social media. It cannot be viewed as a minor incident if the median cross-over occurred as it would be just luck that a fatal collision would not have occurred.