Another fatal accident on I-19 raises concerns

Updated: Dec. 13, 2017 at 9:58 PM MST
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GREEN VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The investigation continues as to why a woman veered off Interstate 19 and crashed headlong into a pillar supporting the Duval Mine Road Overpass.

The 59-year-old woman was killed in her crushed black SUV.

For years, I-19 has ranked among the deadliest highways in America, which is a surprise given the road is pretty much a straight line.

Many reasons have been given in the past for the 100 or so memorials that line the roadway from the southern most reaches of Tucson to the 60 or so miles to Nogales.

"It was by the grace of God I didn't roll over," said David Polsky, the owners of the Car Care Center in Green Valley. "I left the highway at 80 miles an hour."

Polsky is an I-19 survivor. Ten years ago, a tire blew on his car and he lost control.

"I launched over a cattle fence and just ended up in a field out there," he said of the crash that happened near the I-19 casino.

Now, he warns others of the dangers of tire neglect.

"I drive the road all the time" since he lives in North Tucson. "I see accidents all the time."

"When you leave the road, you are at the mercy of the Department of Transportation," said Tucson Attorney John Leader, who has successfully sued the state over safety issues along the Interstate.

Leader supports putting barriers of some kind in areas that are dangerous to drivers when they leave the road.

"What's worse, hitting a barrier or leaving the road," he said. "If it's worse than leaving the road, then you put up a barrier."

The state does put up sand barrels, which cost about $215 apiece, at various locations along interstates, but Leader is puzzled why I-19 does not have them.

"The crush cushion is designed to be flexible and absorb impacts," he said. "The bridge pillar isn't. It's designed to hold up a bridge."

Crash Cushion Selection Procedure by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Whether a cushion or barrier may have saved the woman's life, is hard to say.

"Would if have lessened the severity of the impact?" said Leader. "Without question."

The state denied our request to talk about it, sending us an email instead.

"We are providing this response to your inquiry and respectfully decline the opportunity for an interview. ADOT designs freeway infrastructure to nationally recognized safety standards. The cause of the crash you are inquiring about remains under investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety."

That still doesn't answer the question as to why large concrete pillars are not protected.

Leader says national safety standards require the state to protect motorists.

"If that protection isn't there, you're in trouble." he said.

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