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October 21, 2006

Barriers: Jersey vs. Pennsylvania

You may have heard of a Jersey barrier; it's that concrete thing used on highways, shaped in a special way to minimize damage to cars and tip them back upright instead of flipping them over. If you go to this excellent Jersey barrier history (maintained by noted misc.transport.road'ster Scott Kozel) he describes the history of them, and also some other types (like the higher F barrier). I had heard it was first used on the New Jersey Turnpike; who knows.

I was reading about the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel Rehabilitation in Pittsburgh, which was completed in 2003. They discuss a problem that occurs when you drive on bridges that use Jersey barriers as their outer railing; from a normal car they block your view at any angle below level, so you can't see things that are lower than the bridge. The two Seattle floating bridges, for example, have this problem (luckily since they are so low on the water you still have a pretty good view). It turns that for this renovation in Pittsburgh, they developed the new "Pennsylvania barrier" which fixes that problem (they also used lane rentals for the project--very progressive). It has a lower concrete part (32 inches high) topped with an upper 18 inches of super thick-n-sturdy steel railing. I'm sure the name was a bit of a joke on Jersey barriers, but perhaps it foresees an era in which different states battle it out for barrier supremacy.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project includes twinning the bridge over the Delaware, that is, over the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. I wonder what kind of barriers they will use?

Posted by AdamBa at October 21, 2006 11:00 PM

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