The National Academies

NCHRP 22-18 [Completed]

Crashworthy Work-Zone Traffic Control Devices

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Texas A&M Research Foundation
Principal Investigator: Roger Bligh
Effective Date: 9/1/2000
Completion Date: 8/31/2005

Background: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is requiring that all work-zone traffic control devices used on the National Highway System meet the evaluation criteria in NCHRP Report 350 in the near future. Certain low-mass items, referred to by the FHWA as Category 2 devices, must meet NCHRP Report 350 criteria if they are purchased new after October 1, 2000. Category 2 devices include the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Type I, II, and III barricades, vertical panels, and temporary sign supports. Currently, most of the devices in use are shop-fabricated of readily available materials but have not been properly crash tested. There are a limited number of vendors furnishing approved crashworthy devices. Many of the approved devices are proprietary and cost considerably more than comparable shop-fabricated devices.

Since all work-zone traffic control devices used on the National Highway System must soon meet NCHRP Report 350 criteria, it is important that a number of nonproprietary work-zone traffic control devices be identified or developed and that plans and specifications be made available to state transportation agencies. These devices should be easily fabricated of readily available materials, be cost efficient, and meet NCHRP Report 350 crash test criteria.

Objective: The objective of this research is to develop plans and specifications for nonproprietary crashworthy work-zone traffic control devices constructed of readily available materials. These devices shall meet the evaluation criteria in NCHRP Report 350 as supplemented by FHWA Memorandum, "Identifying Acceptable Highway Safety Features," dated July 25, 1997. Category 2 devices (as defined by the above-referenced FHWA memo) meeting the requirements of the MUTCD (e.g., Type I, II, and III barricades, vertical panels, and temporary sign supports) shall be evaluated with and without signs, lights, and flags. Temporary sign supports shall include both 300-mm (1-ft) mounting height and 2.1-m (7-ft) mounting height on portable stands.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objectives will require the following tasks.

PHASE I: (1) Conduct a critical review of published literature and ongoing research to identify Category 2 devices that have been crash tested. Include the identification of both passing and failing devices. (2) Conduct a survey of state and federal transportation agencies to identify Category 2 work-zone traffic control devices currently being used. For nonproprietary devices, the survey shall solicit plans and specifications and provide the research agency with the means to assess performance, crashworthiness, and usage. (3) Summarize the information from Tasks 1 and 2, and organize it into a format conducive to the evaluation of the devices. Identify existing devices that exhibit desirable performance characteristics but are not necessarily crashworthy. Likewise, identify existing devices that are crashworthy but do not exhibit desirable performance characteristics. Lastly, identify commonly used types of devices for which there are few or no nonproprietary crashworthy devices that exhibit good performance characteristics. (For example, Type II barricades may be widely used, but nonproprietary crashworthy devices that exhibit good performance characteristics may not be available.) (4) Focusing on devices that are widely used and for which there are few or no nonproprietary crashworthy designs that exhibit good performance characteristics, identify the key factors contributing to favorable and unfavorable crashworthiness and performance. Considering these key factors, recommend and prioritize designs for further development and crash testing. Estimate the cost of development and testing for each recommended design. The recommended designs shall be able to be fabricated by transportation agency personnel or transportation agency contractors from readily available materials. (5) Within 6 months of contract award, submit an interim report that discusses the information gathered and recommendations provided in Tasks 1 through 4. Meet with the NCHRP project panel to review the interim report, the recommended designs, and the work plan for the remaining tasks. The panel will select designs to be developed and tested in Phase II. The research agency shall not proceed to Phase II without NCHRP approval.

PHASE II: (6) Develop plans and specifications for designs selected by the project panel in Task 5. Submit the plans and specifications for review by the panel prior to proceeding to Task 7. (7) Construct an appropriate number of devices of each design for testing. Document the construction of each device and any difficulties encountered. (8) Crash test each of the devices constructed in Task 7 in accordance with FHWA and NCHRP Report 350 criteria, and evaluate each design to determine what features contribute to the device either passing or failing the crash tests. Submit for review the results of each failing crash test to the project panel prior to proceeding to the next crash test of that device. (9) Prepare a final report that documents the entire research effort. The final report shall include all project specifics, including results of the literature search and survey, design evaluations, design development, construction procedures, and crash test results. The research agency will provide detailed plans and specifications for all nonproprietary devices identified or developed as part of this project that have good performance characteristics and are crashworthy. The plans and specifications shall be provided as an appendix to the report and must be in a format suitable for use by state transportation agencies for standard road plans.

Status: The project has been completed and the final report published as NCHRP Report 553.

Product Availability: NCHRP Report 553.

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