Performance of Temporary Concrete Traffic Barriers During the Widening of I-95

Report No: 82-R57

Published in 1982

About the report:

This research effort was initiated at the request of officials of the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation to obtain information on the performance of the precast concrete traffic barrier (PCTB) when exposed to heavy vehicles. The PCTB is a portable system used in Virginia since 1976 to separate high speed vehicular traffic and construction activities. The PCTB system was evaluated during the widening of I-95 at Ashland. The scope of the evaluation included (1) an examination of the traffic accident data for I-95 before and during construction to determine the effects of construction on the frequency and characteristics of traffic accidents, (2) an analysis of tire marks on the barrier and barrier-involved accidents to obtain an indication of the effectiveness of the PCTB in safely redirecting vehicles, and (3) an examination of the effects of the PCTB system on traffic operations. The research effort found that (1) the traffic accident rate in the construction zone on I-95 was 12% higher than before construction, (2) the reduction in the lateral distance between the vehicles in the median and shoulder lanes during construction appeared to contribute to an increase in the number of sideswipe type accidents, (3) 97% of the vehicles which impacted the barrier were safely redirected, (4) drivers were more at ease with the barrier located on the left edge of the roadway than when located on the right, and (5) vehicular speeds were reduced by only a few miles per hour when the barriers were in place. A subsequent study utilizing mathematical computer modeling techniques is recommended, since the performance of the PCTB system when impacted by a heavy vehicle was not identified in this study.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Frank N. Lisle

Last updated: January 21, 2024

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