The Ohio Department of Transportation has changed its policy concerning protective fencing on bridges under which highway traffic passes.
“There's right and wrong and unfortunately it takes tragedies like this to sometimes make it right," said Randy Budd, whose wife Sharon was nearly killed when a rock was thrown through their windshield on a Pennsylvania interstate in July of 2014. Budd’s brain was crushed; she lost an eye and was forced to undergo several surgeries.
“She's on total disability and she needs 24-hour care,” said Budd, who teamed up with Ohio Senator Scott Oelslager to lobby Ohio's Department of Transportation for protective fencing on bridges.
“We strongly believe from the get-go that if there's protective fencing up on that highway I probably wouldn't be down here talking with you today," he told Fox8’s Lorrie Taylor.
Budd said ODOT was resistant to the “Budd Bridge Fencing Initiative” until Senator Oelslager gave representatives from the state agency an ultimatum: change policy language regarding the installation of vandal protection fencing or Oelslager would introduce legislation to make it happen. ODOT changed its rules effective January 1, 2016.
New policy language reads: “Fencing shall be installed on all bridges over vehicular traffic except as noted herein. Fencing shall be installed on bridges over rail traffic if required in an agreement with the affected railroad. Bridges that carry vehicular traffic over county routes shall be exempt from fencing. For existing bridges, fencing shall be provided when new concrete or refaced concrete barriers are installed. At locations where fencing will adversely affect public safety (e.g. reduced sight distance), submit a written request for exemption to the Deputy Director Engineering. The request for exemption shall include supporting documentation."
“It feels wonderful,” said Budd in reaction to ODOT’s new language, “There's not too many positives that come out of a situation like this, but one of the great things is how the communities of Pennsylvania and Ohio came together on this."
Budd said preventing other families from going through the kind of tragedy his own was forced to endure was more than a passion; he called it an obligation.
"It's almost like paying it forward,” he told Taylor, “People are so kind and did fundraising and helped us and stayed in contact, that it kind of builds your own heart in trying to help other people."
Budd said his wife was doing well, “all things considered.”
“When I go home she’s positive, funny and loving,” he said.