Years after deadly I-4 pileup, fog detectors remain elusive

9:03 PM, Jan 30, 2012   |    comments
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BARTOW, Florida -- The crashes look eerily similar: a road filled with wreckage. Mangled cars and trucks everywhere.

Photo Gallery: Alachua County Pileup

Sunday's massive accident on I-75 near Gainesville has people who drive I-4 every day through Polk County flashing back to a 70-car pileup that happened four years ago.

Heavy fog and smoke are to blame for both incidents.

"It's a death trap.  I hate to say it that way, but it's bad out there on I-4," said Allen Moye.

In the aftermath of the January 2008 crash, the Florida Department of Transportation promised safety upgrades. Some have been made, like electronic signs, sensors on the roadway, and cameras.

"We have multiple ways to monitor that roadway that we did not have at that time," said Cindy Clemmons, spokesperson for FDOT.

But a $2.8 million project to install fog detectors in the center median for a 16 mile stretch of I-4 is still on hold.

The detectors would have gone in the same place as the high speed rail project. But since that went away, why haven't the fog devices been installed?

Clemmons says because they waited to see if the rail would happen, the state is now waiting on federal funds to become available.

"Once you move a job out, another job gets slotted in," Clemmons explained, "we can't go back now and bump that job to reinsert this one.  That's now how the funding works."

That means the fog detectors aren't in the budget until the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

"It's kind of sad that they put something like that off, which they need to have," Moye said.

But now it's looking like it may be eight years after the crash until that improvement is installed.

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