Some States to Test New, Safer Guardrails

A new guardrail designed to greatly increase safety on the roads is being rolled out.

📅   Tue August 25, 2015 - West Edition
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Engineers from Texas A&M's Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation teamed up a year ago to develop a guardrail that could prevent vehicles from driving through or over it, The Eagle ( http://bit.ly/1EbHvA7 ) reported Saturday.
Engineers from Texas A&M's Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation teamed up a year ago to develop a guardrail that could prevent vehicles from driving through or over it, The Eagle ( http://bit.ly/1EbHvA7 ) reported Saturday.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Some roadways in Texas and around the country will get new guardrails after Texas A&M University found that a specially made reinforced concrete barrier works better to protect drivers.

Engineers from Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation teamed up a year ago to develop a guardrail that could prevent vehicles from driving through or over it, The Eagle ( http://bit.ly/1EbHvA7 ) reported Saturday.

TTI associate research engineer William Williams said the decision to start the project was spurred by increasingly frequent tractor-trailer accidents.

”Whenever we see an accident involving an 18-wheeler that goes off a roadway and falls onto the roadway below, there’s always a discussion about using a rail to redirect larger trucks,’ Williams said.

The rail is made of reinforced concrete that weighs 420 pounds per foot. To test it, a tractor-trailer drove 50 mph along a steep cable and into the barrier on Friday. Except for kicking up dust, nothing much happened at impact. The semitrailer was almost three times the height of the barrier, but it stayed upright and slid parallel along the guardrail until it came to a stop in a grassy field.

Officials from transportation departments in California, Pennsylvania, Florida and others viewed the test through a live stream, Williams said.

The structure is meant for new construction projects, but it can also be retrofitted onto existing structures in some cases.