Publication Date

4-2009

Journal

Journal of Transportation Engineering

Volume

135

Issue

4

First Page

225

Last Page

234

Abstract

To protect motorists and avoid tort liability, highway agencies expend considerable resources to repair damaged longitudinal barriers, such as w-beam guardrails. With limited funding available, though, highway agencies are unable to maintain all field-installed systems in the ideal as-built condition. Instead, these agencies focus on repairing only damage that has a detrimental effect on the safety performance of the barrier. The distinction between minor damage and more severe performance-altering damage, however, is not always clear. This paper presents a critical review of current United States (US) and Canadian criteria on whether to repair damaged longitudinal barrier. Barrier repair policies were obtained via comprehensive literature review and a survey of US and Canadian transportation agencies. In an analysis of the maintenance procedures of 40 US States and 8 Canadian transportation agencies, fewer than one-third of highway agencies were found to have quantitative measures to determine when barrier repair is warranted. In addition, no engineering basis for the current US barrier repair guidelines could be found. These findings underscore the importance of the development of quantitative barrier repair guidelines based on a strong technical foundation.

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