FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Florida drivers are still getting used to the reversible express lanes on Interstate 595. Statistics show the red and white gates that warn drivers the express lanes are not open in the direction they're traveling have already been hit dozens of times.
There are five warning gates at each entrance to the express lanes and one barrier gate that blocks traffic from driving in the wrong direction.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, since the express lanes opened March 26, drivers have hit the warning gates 74 times. Once someone even made it all the up to the big barrier gate.
That's 75 hits in about four months, or almost one every other day. The FDOT isn't discouraged by the number.
"Between 150,000 to 250,000 cars travel that road each day, so when you consider it's been open for four months, it's a really small percentage," FDOT spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher told Local 10 News.
She said most collisions are minor because the cars just nick the ends of the gates as they veer right to avoid them. The problem is there's a little sensor in the tip of those red and white arms that alert traffic controllers when they've been hit.
Each one of those sensors cost $600 to replace. If the entire arm has been changed out, that can cost between $1,000 and $3,000. Kelleher said the private concessionaire that was awarded the contract to maintain I-595 for the state picks up the repair bill.
"So it doesn't cost taxpayers any additional money to make those repairs or replacements," Kelleher said.
She said the concessionaire will file a claim with the driver's insurance company if someone accidentally hits one of the gates and damages it.