Drivers who try to maneuver too fast through the tight interstate exits to State Road 84 are risking their lives — and at least six have died there since 2007.
And early Friday, another driver’s life was threatened in a violent crash of his 18-wheeler.
Speed is usually a major cause of such crashes, said Barbara Kelleher of the Florida Department of Transportation.
“It’s a hard right angle on both the northbound and southbound sides,” Kelleher said Friday. “It’s usually speed, and a lot of momentum with those big trucks” that can’t stop as fast as a car.
Trucker Homero Balderas Barrera of Goshen, Calif. didn’t negotiate the east or westbound turns off the exit around 12:03 a.m. Instead, witnesses told Fort Lauderdale Police, the big rig was moving at a “high rate of speed” on the ramp, where the limit falls from 35 mph to 15 mph. Then the truck ran the red light, according to a traffic crash report.
It collided with the concrete median barrier, crossed the westbound lanes of S.R. 84 and crashed through a second wall before overturning and falling downhill to the side of the highway.
Barrera was wearing his seat belt. The truck’s airbags did not deploy and he was trapped inside the cabin. Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue removed him before taking him to Broward Health Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition late Friday afternoon.
The tractor trailer was owned by Cheema Transport, Inc. of Kingsburg, Calif. The company declined to comment on the driver or his route. The semi was disabled in the crash, which left it with $100,000 in estimated damage, police said. Traffic along the interstate was slow throughout the morning commute and until noon while some northbound lanes were closed and the wreck’s crumpled remains were removed.
A South Florida Sun Sentinel 2013 review of the triple-deck interchange of ramps and flyovers called it one of the region’s deadliest crossroads.
It’s not like the state doesn’t alert drivers about what to expect as they approach Exit 25/State Road 84/Marina Mile Blvd.
Kelleher provided a long list of devices that included: On the northbound side of the interstate and two-lane exit ramp, signs warning of gradual speed reductions from 40 mph to 15 mph and traffic signals at the end of the ramp before the 90 degree turns onto State Road 84.
Southbound motorists on I-95 exiting to westbound State Road 84 should slow from 40 mph to 10 mph if turning west into a protected lane to merge into traffic. Drivers traveling south from I-95 who want to continue east on State Road 84 will notice speed slows from 40 mph to 25 mph, and they are met by a traffic signal at the end of ramp.
There are also rumble strips on the pavement, poles and reflective markers on the northbound exit and guardrails and a concrete barrier on the southbound ramp.
The walls have been scarred by paint and other evidence of wrecks and near misses.
One of the most spectacular crashes happened in 2013, when a man was thrown from his motorcycle at the top of one of the ramps. The bike flipped over the wall and landed on the hood of a car driving north on I-95. The car burst into flames, but neither driver was seriously injured.
And in August 2017, a 17-year-old boy was killed and four other juveniles were seriously hurt when the speeding Mazda they were in slammed into the ramp’s concrete barrier wall and fell to the highway. The car landed on its roof. Authorities said then that it had been stolen.