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New guardrails being tested on Sudbury area highway

A new guardrail system from Sweden is being tested on the highway north of Sudbury — and the only place where they are being tried in North America.
New steel guardrails (right) have been installed as far as possible from the road on Highway 144 north of Sudbury. Now there's a paved shoulder where the old wooden guardrail (left) used to be. The new guardrails are part of a pilot project with the Ministry of Transportation, and is the first of its kind in North America. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

A new guardrail system from Sweden is being tested on the highway north of Sudbury — and the only place where they are being tried in North America.

The Ministry of Transportation says it's hoping they will improve safety for drivers. Ministry engineer Ray Hong said the new steel posts connected with cables can be installed farther away from the roadway than the old ones. The old wooden posts crowded the road and snowplows were running into them.

There's a new guardrail in place on a stretch of Highway 144. The CBC's Kate Rutherford spoke with the Swedish company that made the guardrail. 5:31

“We're hearing from our maintenance folks that there are fewer occurrences of posts getting broken and the guardrail getting hit,” he said.

A spokesperson with Safence, the company that makes the fences, said the steel posts you see at the edge of the highway are the tops of very long poles that go far down the embankment.

In addition to the wider shoulder, plows can get rid of snowbanks.

“And the cable has that advantage that, you know, when you have snow, or other buildup, it'll just pass through the cable,” Jesper Sorenson said.

Sorenson noted the terrain north of Sudbury is very similar to northern Sweden.

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