While moveable barriers are most often considered when it’s necessary to reconfigure roadways, transportation officials now are discovering that Reactive Tension System (RTS) barriers can also be the best solution for narrow or shallow-depth roadways – even when the system is never required to move.
In Seattle, Washington, for example, an RTS barrier eliminated crossover head-on accidents on what that city’s mayor called “the most dangerous stretch of roadway in the city.” In that case, the four existing lanes of the three-quarter mile Spokane Street Viaduct had been narrowed as much as possible. With only one foot of space between opposing traffic lanes, typical permanent and portable barrier options were not possible, so a 12-inch steel RTS barrier was installed. It provided the narrow profile required by the road layout along with excellent unanchored deflection performance.
“From 1991 to 1999, there were 51 head-on collisions on that dangerous roadway, resulting in 12 fatalities and numerous serious injuries,” said Jeff Shewmaker, Regional Manager at Lindsay Transportation Solutions. “After we installed the RTS barrier in 2000, the general accident rate dropped 30 percent and crossover and head-on collisions were eliminated. It was actually meant to be a temporary solution, but the barrier remained on the viaduct until a widening project was completed in 2012.”
A new Rhode Island project is another example of how static RTS barriers are making roadways safer for motorists.
In March of 2015, the rising number of crossover accidents prompted officials to install the RTS system on the Pell Bridge, which carries four lanes of traffic across Narragansett Bay. Anchored only at the ends, the RTS barrier wall provides TL-4 protection without compromising the bridge deck and is able to absorb energy from impacting vehicles with minimal deflection. A conveyor system that can be towed behind a heavy work vehicle is used to move the barrier for special events, emergencies and traffic control during maintenance work.
“RTS barriers provide the positive protection needed to save lives,” said Shewmaker. “They are proving to be a great solution for improving safety on bridges and other space-restricted roadways.”