Ala. woman bikes Natchez Trace to highlight need for medians

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Alabama woman is bicycling the length of the Natchez Trace Parkway to draw attention to the need for barriers in medians of four-lane and interstate highways.

Shannon Bowers’ only brother, Braden Bowers, was killed in a February 2006 car crash on Interstate 10 in the Florida panhandle. She said he swerved to avoid a car, slid across the median into oncoming traffic and was hit by another car. He died instantly.

“Every highway patrolman has said if there had been a median barrier … my brother would have probably survived,” said Bowers, of Loxley, Ala.

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Bowers, 27, began the bike trip Sunday near Nashville, Tenn., on what would have been her brother’s 20th birthday. She hopes to reach Natchez, on Friday afternoon. The 444-mile Natchez Trace is a two-lane road.

Wayne Brown, Mississippi’s Southern District transportation commissioner, said more median barriers would make highways safer. He said it is safer to hit a barrier than to travel into oncoming traffic.

“Barriers can save lives, there’s no question, and I would personally like to see them installed everywhere we could,” he said.

Brown said there are more effective ways to make highways safer.

On average, every other month a person is killed in Mississippi in a collision when a vehicle crosses the median of a four-lane highway, he said.

Brown said it would be better to put shoulders on narrow two-lane roads, which have higher fatality rates than four-lane highways. He also suggested cutting down trees that could create dangers for motorists.