You’ve seen it happen: You’re driving down I-95, minding your own business, when all of a sudden some douchebag in the express lane realizes he or she is about to miss an exit and abruptly plows through the orange plastic poles, forcing you to slam on the brakes and narrowly avoid a messy accident.
“Lane diving,” as it’s often called, has been an issue virtually ever since the express lanes were added in 2008. Drivers who do it face a $179 fine, not to mention, you know, possibly killing someone. But neither of those threats seem to stop anyone.
Since getting South Floridians to drive safely is apparently not an option, the FDOT has landed on an alternative solution: Get tougher poles. The new poles, which FDOT will begin installing tomorrow, are supposed to be made of more durable plastic and will be spaced five feet rather than ten feet apart. It won’t be impossible to drive over them, but it will be a lot harder.
The total cost? $1.2 million.
While that might seem like a lot of money, FDOT says it’s actually cheaper than constantly replacing the existing poles. On average, FDOT has to replace each pole once a year, which adds up to $1 million annually, district director of Transportation Operations Debora Rivera told the Miami Herald. That money comes out of the tolls drivers pay when they use the express lanes.
You might reasonably wonder why the FDOT doesn’t save us all a bunch of money and build a concrete wall to separate the lanes. The answer, basically, seems to be that I-95 isn’t wide enough. FDOT District 6 secretary James Wolfe explained to the Miami Herald: “The problem is we can’t get a concrete barrier wall within a four-foot area with safe separation from the travel lanes. So, we have what we have there. This is urban Miami. Land is very limited. And this is, in fact, the best treatment we have available to us with the constraints we have.”
The new poles will be installed at night over the next ten weeks.