Bridge Barriers and Parapets in Relation to the Crash Testing Standards

Bridge Barriers and Parapets
This paper aims to review and compare the information on the function, level of service, design and specific types of bridge barriers and parapets used under the two most widely recognized and accepted crash-testing standards viz American NCHRP Report 350 and European Union EN 1317. This will help to promote discussion and clarify issues on the use of traffic barriers associated with bridges in different countries where such standards does not exist. Reference to research documents and codes is made within the text.

The American NCHRP Report 350 and the European Union EN 1317 are currently the two most widely recognized and accepted crash-testing standards. The American Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issues letters of approval for bridge rails that comply with NCHRP 350 and maintains a website of all approved bridge rails. At this stage, a similar central repository of Comité European de Normalisation (CEN) approved bridge rails does not appear to exist. It is understood that CEN stipulates that compliant systems have to be crash tested to the requirements of EN 1317 but does not issue certificates of compliance. Without such a system, it would be difficult for a road authority to verify CEN compliance of any proposed barrier system.

Australia as an example (in comparison to the countries like India which does not have their indigenous testing board) have developed traffic barrier specifications which are based on crash testing requirements developed by the United States Transportation Research Board (National Cooperative Highway Research Programme (NCHRP) Report 350). Debate needs to be initiated in countries where such system does not exist on the basis of the available crash-testing standards to standardize the requirements of the bridge barriers.

Wasim Qadir, Sr. Bridge Design Engineer, ASHGHAL, Public Works Authority, Doha, Qatar

Introduction

This paper aims to review and compare the information on the function, level of service, design and specific types of bridge barriers and parapets used under the two most widely recognized and accepted crash-testing standards viz American NCHRP Report 350 and European Union EN 1317. This will help to promote discussion and clarify issues on the use of traffic barriers associated with bridges within India or similar areas around the world. Reference to research documents and codes is made within the text.

Basically two types of barriers exist on bridges, these being:
  • traffic barriers and
  • pedestrian barriers
Pedestrian barriers are typically the post/baluster type. Traffic barriers however come in avariety of configurations to suit particular circumstances, including flexible, semi-rigid, rigid beam and post, and rigid concrete barriers. Concrete parapets are preferred as they present a cleaner fascia and have improved noise attenuation characteristics.

Parapet panels are usually located along the outside edges of a bridge and some times extend along abutment embankment wingwalls.

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