Acting FHWA Chief Sees ET-Plus Crash Test Results Available Late Jan-Early Feb

AASHTO Journal, 26 November 2014

Greg Nadeau speaks at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Charlotte. Photos courtesy Katy Warner, NCDOT.

Acting Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau told AASHTO’s Board of Directors he expects to make available by late January 2015 or early February the results of eight crash tests to be conducted on the Trinity Industries ET-Plus guardrail end terminals.

The FHWA asked Trinity to retest its widely used guardrail product after a federal jury in a Dallas whistleblower suit found the company had defrauded the government by making design changes it did not clear with the agency. Some critics and news reports have suggested the design changes made the guardrails less safe in certain types of vehicle accidents.

Since then most states have suspended installations while awaiting the crash test results, to make sure the product passes the new round of safety tests and whether the ET-plus units will continue to receive federal approval for reimbursements in federal-aid highway programs.

Nadeau, updating the state transportation chiefs at their annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C., said: “We want to take a data-driven, evidence-based approach to determine whether there is a safety issue here.” He also said the tests are “pass/fail,” meaning they will either show that ET-Plus meets the requirements or does not.

He said the tests would use ET-Plus products obtained by the California Department of Transportation, to assure that the ones crash-tested were those already deployed in the field, and pursue an aggressive schedule. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this issue,” Nadeau said.

Besides the tests, he said the FHWA is asking state DOTs to supply federal officials with information about the performance of ET-Plus in the field, and appealed to the state agency CEOs for their help in that effort.

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