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Democracy Awards

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Representing the 11th District of California

DeSaulnier GuardRail Measure Included In Highway Reauthorization Bill

November 5, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – In response to tragic injuries and the loss of life caused by faulty highway guardrails and the Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) inability to track these safety devices that resulted in a multi-million dollar judgment and extensive media reports, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) authored an amendment to keep the public safe. The measure was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and included in a six-year Highway Reauthorization bill (H.R. 22).

“Media reports estimate more than 200,000 potentially unsafe guardrails may still be in service. However, no mechanism exists for states to identify and remove defective devices from our nation’s roadways. Guardrails, barriers, and terminals are put in place to protect us. In the event of an accident, the public should have full confidence they will do their job,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.  

In November of last year, Darryl Blackmon, a 24-year-old Bay Area resident and football star, was killed in a collision with a guardrail that 40 states, and the District of Columbia, have stopped installing due to safety concerns. In response to tragedies like this, a federal judge handed down a $663 million judgment against the manufacturer for failing to disclose information to federal regulators about modifications made to their guardrail specifications after they were approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

DeSaulnier’s amendment directs the USDOT to study ways to improve data collection on highway safety hardware devices including guardrails, barriers, terminals, and railings. This is the first step in a series of items DeSaulnier is working on to keep the public safe.

Of the overall Highway bill, DeSaulnier said, “states are in dire need of funding to address urgent infrastructure needs. While not perfect, this bill invests over $30.5 billion in California’s highways and transit. A multi-year bill is critical to making necessary repairs, executing major capital investments, and creating jobs.” The bill passed the House 363-64 and now moves to reconciliation with the Senate bill.

Congressman DeSaulnier is a Member House Oversight Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets.

Click here to watch floor debate on the amendment.