State transportation engineers announced Monday they’re ready to curb the dangerously illegal practice of lane-diving on Interstate 95 — the suicide-commando-like maneuver in which motorists plow through the flexible poles demarcating the highway’s tolled express lanes.
Starting Wednesday, road crews will begin replacing the existing poles with a sturdier design along the toll lanes, which run between Interstate 836 and the Golden Glades interchange. They will also double the number of poles, reducing the spacing from 10 feet to 5 feet. The new plastic poles, which can take up to 200 hits and still spring back into place, should hold up a lot longer than the existing ones, the Florida Department of Transportation said.
Together with the tighter spacing, that will discourage lane-diving by reducing maneuvering space and sightlines for scofflaws checking their mirrors for cars in the next lane before making an illegal cut, FDOT officials said.
“This measure is part of our continuing effort to enhance safety along the 95 Express corridor and put an end to the dangerous and illegal practice of lane diving,” said Jim Wolfe, FDOT district secretary for Miami-Dade County, in a statement.
The second, more ambitious part of the project, set to start in January, will create five stopping zones along the toll lanes for motorists with car trouble — and, not incidentally, for state troopers to safely pull over and ticket violators, something they’ve long been asking for. The 13-foot-wide zones, ranging in length from 1,200 feet to 1,900 feet, will be created by shifting the highway’s concrete dividing barriers.
The pole replacement, which will begin on the northbound half of the highway, should take about 10 weeks. Creating the stopping zones will take a year, FDOT said.
The Florida Highway Patrol, meanwhile, reminded motorists that it’s already cracking down on lane diving.
“Our increased crackdown on lane divers results in a $179 fine and three points on your license,” said FHP Troop E spokesman Joe Sanchez. “Stay safe — stay in your lane.”