Report recommended installing barrier on I-95 near Attleboro

Two drivers headed south on Interstate 95 near Attleboro last week had virtually no time to react as an SUV crossed the median and hit their cars head on.

Less than a year ago, another car crossed the median in nearly the same spot, killing both drivers.

"A lot of speed on that highway and traffic. There's lots of traffic," Kevin Rennick said. "I travel in the morning and at night, and it's bumper to bumper, and people are going the speed limit or even above."

Rennick travels I-95 between Providence and Boston about once a week for work. He said he's surprised to hear about crashes where cars cross the grassy median.

"I was wondering how people actually travel that far a distance. It's actually quite a distance from the northbound lane to the southbound lane," Rennick said.

In some spots, trees in the median prevent cars from crossing into oncoming traffic. But in other areas, the median is wide open, with only grass separating northbound and southbound lanes.

NBC 10 checked to find out what Massachusetts is doing to stop this problem and found a road safety audit, published in June 2009, which looked at lane departure crashes and cross-median crashes.

The report, which is nearly 40 pages long, recommends installing a cable barrier on that stretch of I-95 in Attleboro.

The audit estimates the cost of that barrier at $374,400.

Mike Verseckes, the deputy communications director at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, told NBC 10 via email that the audit and other studies in the state were completed in 2009.

"This came out of a larger contract costing approximately $182,242, for a series of studies in multiple locations around the state," Verseckes wrote.

Asked why the state had not installed a cable barrier as the audit recommended, Verseckes wrote:

"We've made solid progress on many of the higher priority locations where MassDOT has identified a high propensity for median crossover crashes. For ones that are lower on the list, we are incorporating those upgrades into future projects, such as maintenance and resurfacing various segments of state highway."

Verseckes did not give a specific timeline for these future projects but noted that a maintenance project like repaving roads would come before a full road reconstruction.

One driver at a gas station in North Attleborough told NBC 10 he used to drive I-95 frequently to get to school in Framingham.

"You'd see the normal things," Dan Morse said. "You know, speeders, people who didn't drive fast enough. I've seen people texting. I've actually even seen people reading books while they were driving, which absolutely baffled me."

Morse told NBC 10 he didn't think that stretch of I-95 was any worse or more dangerous than any other road or highway.