WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 10, 2013, 08:32 PM

Mn-Dot is installing guard rails where 4 NDSU students lost their lives

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- A construction project, beginning in Alexandria today, hits close to home here in the metro.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- A construction project, beginning in Alexandria today, hits close to home here in the metro.

Almost a year and a half after 4 NDSU students lost their lives on an icy patch of I-94, Mn-Dot is installing guard rails, that possibly could've saved their lives.

On this stretch of I-94 running in and out of Alexandria big changes are coming, after too many lives have been lost.

Justin Knopf- Cable Median Project Engineer: "Starting to pound some of the line posts"

Tom Swenson- MN DOT Traffic Engineer: "How do you explain any life to a family after you lose them?"

Swenson: "When I hear about crashes like what happened last year with the 4 NDSU students that's just exactly the types of crashes we're trying to prevent."

The NDSU campus was shaken when 4 freshman died after their car crossed the median in this same area. Some students even started a petition asking for interstate improvements.

And soon, cable guardrails will up to block the way.

Swenson: "When you see a crash like this and the chance to do something about it, I guess when we heard about the petition, to me, that just meant public support."

About 200-thousand feet of this cable will run for 10 miles between the east and westbound lanes near Alexandria, making it more difficult for cars to cross over into oncoming traffic.

Knopf: "The line posts are designated so that when a car hits, the cable will stretch and not break and the post will bend over."

The barriers have proven to cut down fatal crashes by 90 percent in high-volume areas that currently don't have them.

Swenson: "When you lose control and go into the median, a lot of times it's just a big crash cushion on there."

And Swanson says it's never too little, or too late...

Swenson: "I think when it's young people, it always hits a little harder. You don't want to see anything but, you know, it's time to get after it."

To help save more lives in the future.

The cables in Alexandria will run from mile marker 96 to 106. After it's done. The project will move to Moorhead then Fergus Falls later this summer.