There has been much controversy regarding the use of “chutes” during highway construction. Chutes are the temporary lanes created by concrete barriers that diverts traffic away from the normal lanes that are closed due to construction. But critics say they are dangerous and result in too much loss of life. That danger was evident in a recent eight-vehicle crash on Interstate 85 in South Carolina that killed three people.
According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the seven vehicles were stopped in traffic in a chute in the southbound lane when a tractor-trailer slammed into the last vehicle, causing a chain reaction. Three of the vehicles ended up in the northbound lane.
A 58-year-old man and his 60-year-old wife were pronounced dead at the scene. Another 60-year-old woman was airlifted to Spartanburg Medical Center where she later died in the emergency department. Six other people were also transferred to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The Cherokee County coroner issued a statement regarding chutes and how dangerous they are for commuters. He referred to the chutes as “death traps” and called for officials to rethink their decision to endorse them.
According to a statement from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), the truck driver was traveling in a lane that was designated for passenger vehicles only. A week following the crash, the SCDOT announced that the chutes would be removed from the full construction zone as soon as is feasible, and much sooner than had been originally planned.