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ODOT to install wrong-way detection system on I-90 and I-71 in 2023

Cleveland location based on statewide analysis of crashes
ODOT to install wrong-way detection system on I-90 and I-71 in 2023
Wrong-way crash
Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 22, 2022

CLEVELAND — Next year, the Ohio Department of Transportation will start construction on a wrong-way detection system along a 22-mile-long stretch of I-90 and I-71 in Cuyahoga County.

According to ODOT, the detection system will start between West 150th Street and East 140th Street. Once completed, there will be flashing wrong-way signs and 50 detection devices at 25 spots along the highways. It's estimated to cost around $1.8 million.

CUY-Wrong-Way-Corridor-Map.jpg

When a car is detected going the wrong way, signs with "WRONG WAY" on them will flash. If the car continues heading in that direction, a sign further down the road will flash "DO NOT ENTER" and "WRONG WAY." Additionally, an alert will be sent to ODOT, which will then notify police. A camera will take a short clip of the vehicle that triggered the system to confirm it was a wrong-way driver.

"This section of I-71/I-90 was selected based on a statewide analysis of wrong-way crashes that occurred between 2016 to 2019," ODOT said in a statement. "That evaluation also considered the number of alcohol-related crashes that had occurred within a quarter mile of potential wrong-way entry points, the number of bars and restaurants serving alcohol near the exit ramps, and the amount of traffic using the ramps. This corridor was selected with the intent of providing the most complete coverage to capture wrong-way entries onto the highway."

ODOT said that while wrong-way crashes only made up 0.01% of crashes in the state last year, wrong-way crashes are "40 times more likely to be deadly."

“Improving safety for people who live, work, and travel in our state is a top priority for Governor DeWine and me,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “This technology is already helping reduce the number of drivers traveling the wrong way on I-71 in Hamilton County since its installation more than two years ago.”

This isn't the first detection system in the state. Cleveland already has a standalone system on the westbound exit from SR-2 exit to West 28th Street.

Sandi Churby, who lost her 27-year-old Clintin Churby to a wrong-way driver crash in October 2020, told News 5 the new system is a good start but said she was not sure it could have prevented her son's fatal crash.

“It gets no easier, every day is a struggle," Churby said. “He’s missed by so many people....I think if you’re that impaired to drive the wrong way, I’m not sure if some blinking lights are going to stop you. On-coming cars didn’t stop the man that hit my son.”

ODOT to install wrong-way detection system on I-90 and I-71 in 2023
Sandi Churby said she not sure the new system could have prevented her son's fatal crash at the hands of a wrong-way driver

Churby continued, “I’m glad to see that they’re at least trying or thinking of something to do. Is this going to also snap a picture of their license plate so they can be cited and made aware that they were seen? I’m sure that probably, if not save somebody’s life, it probably will save a few accidents at least...but as far as helping to prevent my son's case, quite possibly, unfortunately, we’ll never know.”

Churby said she's also hoping for tougher sentencing for drivers who cause wrong-way crashes, especially if the driver is impaired. Larry Miller, 63, pleaded guilty to causing her son's fatal I-76 crash, but Churby believes Miller should have been sentenced to more than just at least seven years in prison.

Meanwhile, in 2019, a system was installed in the Cincinnati area. ODOT said the system has been triggered by wrong-way drivers 50 times, and nearly all of the drivers turned around before entering the highway.

News 5 has been reporting on wrong-way crashes and efforts to curb them for years. Take an in-depth look at deadly wrong-way crashes in Northeast Ohio in the player below:

In-Depth: Wrong-way crash Friday the latest in a series of deadly crashes ODOT is trying to curb

RELATED:

Wrong-way crash Friday the latest in a series of deadly crashes ODOT is trying to curb

'Most terrifying experience of my life': Motorist recounts encountering wrong-way drive

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