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I-Team: Plastic Pylons Cost Taxpayers More Than Expected

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Brian New
Brian joined the CBS 11 News team in 2013 after working a...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Most drive by without even thinking about them, but the thousands of plastic pylons lining the HOV lanes on US-75 and I-635 in Dallas are closely being studied by the state.

The plastic pylons are supposed be to a tool to enforce HOV rules by keeping drivers from cutting over into the HOV lanes. The pylons are also supposed to be a safer and more cost-effective alternative to concrete barrier.

However, experts say the pylons have had a lot of unexpected costs.

Drivers frequently clip, run-over, and break the flexible pylons.

The CBS11 I-Team discovered in the past two years more than 4,650 plastic pylons were replaced along the 12 mile HOV stretch of I-635.

Another 7,430 were replaced during 2012 and 2013 along the 14 miles of US-75.

In fact, on average seven out of ten pylons along these Dallas HOV lanes are being replaced every year.

The CBS11 I-Team pulled the receipts and uncovered in the past two years DART, who operated the HOV lanes until last October, spent $523,428 on replacement pylons. (As of October 1st, TxDOT took over operation and maintenance of the HOV lanes.)

“That’s a lot of money to spend on cones,” said William Pendgraft of Dallas. “And then you turn around have to fix them (again) and take more money out of your taxes. It’s frustrating.”

Noting the problem, The Texas Department of Transportation funded a study.

Robert Benz of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute headed up the project aimed at providing guidelines on the best way to use the pylons.

“They are a new device being used in a new application so we were just trying to learn a little more about them” he said.

For two year Benz and his team of researchers surveyed pylons from Florida to Texas. He studied the size, the color, and the spacing between the pylons to establish guidelines for implementation.

The study cost taxpayers nearly $300,000.

“We drive down the road looking at signs and pavement markings and I don’t think anyone thinks how often are those replaced or how much do they spend on repairing those,” said Benz.

TxDOT is currently funding a second study focused on the durability of the various types of pylons.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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