FDOT: Cables intended to keep vehicles out of canals work about 85 percent of time

Alligator Alley.

Alligator Alley.

From the Facebook page of Cecilia Douglas, clockwise, Nathan Douglas, Cecilia Douglas, 33, Madison Douglas, 4, and Rylee Douglas, 3.

From the Facebook page of Cecilia Douglas, clockwise, Nathan Douglas, Cecilia Douglas, 33, Madison Douglas, 4, and Rylee Douglas, 3.

A system of Alligator Alley barrier cables under scrutiny after three people died in a crash last month has worked about 85 percent of the time in recent years.

Florida Department of Transportation officials said that from 2007 through 2011 the cables prevented 77 of 91 vehicles from going into canals running alongside Interstate 75. Of those 14 crashes involving vehicles that blasted through the barrier, two resulted in fatalities.

The barrier system's effectiveness has been questioned following the Jan. 21 crash on Alligator Alley that killed Cecilia Renee Douglas, 33, of Immokalee, and daughters Rylee, 3, and Madison, 4. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Cecelia Douglas rear-ended a vehicle near mile marker 87 and swerved off the road, landing in a canal. NBC-2 reported the Douglas' vehicle didn't hit the barrier cables, but rather a pole connected to the cables, knocking it over.

Recent data suggests the cables, installed in 2004, have cut down on fatalities. American Consulting Engineers of Florida, which installed the system, reported 14 people died in 56 crashes involving the Alligator Alley canals during a five-year period in the 1990s. In the most recent five-year period, from 2007 to 2011, two fatalities involving the canals have been reported.

Vehicles have flipped over the barrier system seven times, though none of the crashes resulted in a death.

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