AASHTO Sets Schedule for Installing Safety Hardware With Updated Standards

AASHTO News, 23 December 2015

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials unveiled a states-approved schedule for installing roadside safety hardware devices such as guardrails or crash cushions that meet newer crash- testing standards.

That schedule phases in future deadlines to begin installing or replacing various types of hardware that meet those updated standards. With the schedule in place, manufacturers of such equipment can plan to produce and test the new devices, while state departments of transportation and contractors make plans to acquire them in advance of construction projects that take place after those deadlines.

“The nation’s motor vehicle fleet continues to evolve and our roadside hardware must keep pace,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO’s executive director. “Vehicles have increased in size, and light-truck bumper heights are higher. It’s important that AASHTO and the transportation safety community support the design and manufacture of roadside devices that meet the safety needs of America’s changing vehicle fleet.”

AASHTO’s members – the state DOTs – voted in support of an implementation schedule that starting in 2018 requires new and replacement installations of roadside safety hardware on the National Highway System to meet crash-testing standards laid out in the AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware.

That manual sets uniform guidelines for crash-testing both permanent and temporary highway safety features, and recommends evaluation criteria to assess test results.

AASHTO based this schedule on the anticipated market availability of safety products that will meet the new testing criteria, including the time needed to design, build and test those devices.

After the following dates, AASHTO said, only safety hardware that is tested using the newer standards will be allowed on NHS projects:

-Dec. 31, 2017: W-beam barriers and cast-in-place concrete barriers.
-June 30, 2018: W-beam terminals.
-Dec. 31, 2018: Cable barriers, cable barrier terminals and crash cushions.
-Dec. 31, 2019: Bridge rails, transitions, all other longitudinal barriers (including portable barriers installed permanently), all other terminals, sign supports and all other breakaway hardware.
-Temporary work zone devices, including portable barriers, that are manufactured after Dec. 31, 2019, must also have been successfully tested according to these standards. Devices manufactured on or before this date and successfully tested to prior standards may still be used throughout their normal service lives

AASHTO said under that schedule state and local transportation agencies would need to upgrade their existing NHS highway safety hardware to comply with the newer standards manual edition, “either when it becomes damaged beyond repair or when an individual agency’s policies require an upgrade.”

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