Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Barrier Battle

2018 fatal crash on I-10
2018 fatal crash on I-10

TUCSON – Families are suing the state of Arizona because of Interstate 10 safety concerns.

John P. Leader is an attorney who has filed about a dozen “crossover” lawsuits since 2010, where vehicles cross the median into oncoming traffic.

“The state should be putting in median barriers, obstacles that are designed to prevent vehicles from crossing the median,” Leader said. “They’re inexpensive. They’re effective, and they save lives.”

Irina Zamora lost 3 family members in a crossover crash near Picacho Peak last year.

“Maybe less than a mile away from the accident, there’s a border thing in the middle,” Zamora said. “And I was like, ‘Why it couldn’t happen right there?’ You ask yourself why.”

In an interview last May, Steve Boschen with the Arizona Department of Transportation said barriers are hazards that cause more crashes.

“The safest median really is one that has a wide recovery area,” Boschen said. “And that is what is on I-10 right now.”

Boschen said crossover crashes are extremely rare, and the locations are unpredictable.

Leader said 2 of his cases went all the way to trial, and juries said the state was responsible for crashes.

“There is a problem,” Leader said. “It’s fixable. It’s persisting.”

ADOT is in the process of widening 23 miles of Interstate 10 south of Phoenix. The department is working with the Gila River Indian Community to upgrade the longest 2-lane stretch of road that is remaining between the state’s biggest metropolitan areas.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson - KVOA.
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