Yaw Bill to Make Highways Safer, Prevent Future Tragedies

HARRISBURG – Legislation to require the installation of protective fencing over Interstate highways will soon be introduced in the state Senate, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

Yaw intends to introduce a bill requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to include protective fencing in the construction of “new bridges and erect protective fencing on any existing bridge at such time that a major renovation is required and that the bridge is located over an Interstate highway.”

“In 2014, Sharon Budd, of Uniontown, Ohio was a passenger in her family’s car traveling through my Senate District on Interstate 80 when a rock plunged out of the darkness, smashed through the windshield of her vehicle and struck her in the face,” Yaw said.  “Fortunately, Sharon survived the incident; however, she has since been through multiple surgeries and continues to struggle with lasting effects of her injuries.”

According to the senator, PennDOT does have guidelines in place for protective fence-railing, but only when there is a bridge with a sidewalk over an interstate or railroad or other limited access freeway; when there is a sidewalk on the bridge and the bridge is near a school or playground or other area frequented by children; in large urban areas where pedestrians might cross over the bridge and police surveillance is limited.

The Gray Hill Road overpass in Union County, from which the rock was thrown that hit the Budd car and a tractor-trailer truck, did not meet the criteria for protective fencing.

“Sadly, this is just one of many incidents reported across the Commonwealth where objects have been repeatedly released from overpasses,” Yaw added.

Last month, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) noted that protective fencing will be a part of all new ODOT bridges and bridges that are renovated in Ohio thanks in large part to the advocacy of the Budd Family and friends.

Yaw’s bill is presently being circulated for co-sponsorship.

“I’m hopeful that my colleagues will see the merits of this proposal, which will undoubtedly improve the safety of our transportation infrastructure and help further protect our many users.”

Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff
(717) 787-3280

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