Safety of NC guardrails part of federal investigation

Federal investigation into questionable guardrails
Published: Nov. 13, 2014 at 4:05 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2014 at 4:05 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Despite mounting criticism, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has not joined the nationwide movement to suspend installation of a potentially dangerous type of guardrail.

Trinity's ET-Plus end terminal has been linked to accidents across the country and was the subject of a federal whistleblower lawsuit.

Wednesday, federal highway regulators approved new testing of the product.

But the NCDOT says it's leaving the decision of whether to pull ET-Plus end terminals off the highway up to federal regulators.

"We have not seen any evidence that's been shown to us yet as to what danger they have. We're aware of a couple of incidents," Steve Abbott with the NCDOT said.

Thirty states have suspended installation of the ET Plus, but Abbott says they plan to wait on the result of the federal investigation.

However, if they are found to be faulty, the replacement process won't be easy for NCDOT.

"We don't track them because they're approved products, we don't have a database that shows all the locations," Abbott said.

Trinity is one of three manufacturers whose guardrails are on North Carolina roads. NCDOT doesn't know which ones are where.

According to a memo from the Federal Highway administration, NCDOT should know where the Trinity guardrails are.

The memo reads: "Ideally, all highway agencies should know precisely what has been incorporated into its roadway/roadside infrastructure and be able to monitor the performance of individual components of its highway system."

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