New Highway 12 median barrier already a lifesaver

A new concrete median barrier installed on a problematic stretch of Highway 12 in the Twin Cities west metro has already proven its value. Orono police said the barrier may have saved the life of a driver suffering a medical emergency last Friday, Oct. 28, and it likely prevented a serious crossover crash.

“We’ve had so many tragedies on the road because of crossover and head on crashes that we’re just thankful that the barrier was in,” said Chief Correy Farniok, Orono Police Department.

Orono police responded to a report of an erratic driver on Highway 12 last Friday. According to police: “The caller reported seeing the vehicle going west on the bypass and hit the median barrier more than once (yes the newly installed one). Orono officers caught up to the car at County Road 6 and were able to stop it. Turns out, the adult male was suffering from a medical emergency and was immediately transported to the hospital...This definitely could have been another devastating crash, albeit something that the driver could not know would happen to him as he drove home.”

Orono police said the 54-year-old driver underwent surgery and is doing well in recovery.

“This actually stopped or prevented what could’ve been a serious injury accident if the vehicle crossed over and been a head on crash," said Farniok. "This barrier has proven successful in this very short period of time that it’s been installed."

In August 2015, Highway 12 claimed three lives in just three days prompting an overwhelming response from the community to fight for change.

The median barrier was built with a $2.3 million federal grant after the Minnesota Legislature failed to pass a bill this session that included $15 million in safety upgrades for Highway 12.

The Highway 12 Safety Coalition is looking to fix other problem areas, such as at County Road 92 and Highway 12.

LIVES CLAIMED BY HIGHWAY 12: 2 Orono High School graduates die months apart on deadly stretch of Hwy 12