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Author Topic: Bridge Railings  (Read 1375 times)

Georgia Guardrail

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Bridge Railings
« on: July 21, 2022, 09:28:36 PM »

I'm fascinated by the different types of bridge railings. 

It seems like the older bridges have more of a metal pipe type railing and newer bridges constructed in the 1980s and later have concrete barriers. 

Although I have seem some newer bridges with pipe type railings, any reason why engineers prefer the concrete barrier rails to the pipe type rails nowadays?
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Big John

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2022, 09:33:34 PM »

AASHTO tests show the concrete sloped barrier to be safer during a crash, and they started to appear in the 1970s.
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Tom958

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2022, 05:14:12 AM »

They're cheaper and more resistant to damage, too. Their biggest downside is that they're too plain. Georgia is one of many states that make no effort to add even modest ornamentation.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2022, 07:58:10 PM by Tom958 »
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seicer

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2022, 08:57:58 AM »

The sloped concrete barrier has been determined to be safer for all automobile types but that doesn't preclude agencies from using steel pipe.

- The Carl D. Perkins Bridge features a traditional Jersey barrier with a steel pipe atop: https://goo.gl/maps/3EECWg9yMnr4Y5ka8
- Some of the earliest bridges along I-64 in Kentucky feature a double pipe barrier. These have either been replaced with concrete barriers or augmented with traditional guardrails as the curbing can cause issues at high speeds: https://goo.gl/maps/dVEVCXTYGpSiFaKo7 , https://goo.gl/maps/4zPV86t4GaEwuAR96 and https://goo.gl/maps/6YmGkQRrSPGxcoPd9

Dirt Roads

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2022, 07:31:04 PM »

- Some of the earliest bridges along I-64 in Kentucky feature a double pipe barrier. <safety changes snipped> https://goo.gl/maps/dVEVCXTYGpSiFaKo7

These were also common on the early sections of I-64 in West Virginia, including bridges on the Interstate itself.  This one in Kentucky looks like it has an intentional walkway on the left side and a much narrower curbpath on the right side.  In West Virginia, they almost entirely had curbpaths on both sides with no room for pedestrians. 
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plain

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2022, 08:44:38 PM »

- Some of the earliest bridges along I-64 in Kentucky feature a double pipe barrier. <safety changes snipped> https://goo.gl/maps/dVEVCXTYGpSiFaKo7

These were also common on the early sections of I-64 in West Virginia, including bridges on the Interstate itself.  This one in Kentucky looks like it has an intentional walkway on the left side and a much narrower curbpath on the right side.  In West Virginia, they almost entirely had curbpaths on both sides with no room for pedestrians.

Common on earlier bridges in VA as well, though they have been getting replaced. Here's a few of the ones still around in the Richmond area:

I-95 over Deepwater Terminal Rd, double rail remains on NB side only (opened 1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/iKcNjEVD6G57xTgF6

US 1/301 over I-95/64 (1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/h19XtXZ29a9VEBs47

Fort Lee Rd over I-85 (1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/rVppDg3HoL3cymTX9

SR 657 over I-95 (1963)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/yJ4CQuSPc5ujMqse6

VA 33 over I-64 (1966)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/ASCqfzQkVZhfC1RA7
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plain

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2022, 09:01:31 PM »

And here's a newer type of single rail that VDOT have been installing lately

I-64 over VA 33 near Highland Springs and Sandston
https://maps.app.goo.gl/pnNDnR7QLHoCXRDb6
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D-Dey65

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2022, 03:48:12 PM »

Common on earlier bridges in VA as well, though they have been getting replaced. Here's a few of the ones still around in the Richmond area:

I-95 over Deepwater Terminal Rd, double rail remains on NB side only (opened 1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/iKcNjEVD6G57xTgF6

US 1/301 over I-95/64 (1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/h19XtXZ29a9VEBs47

Fort Lee Rd over I-85 (1958)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/rVppDg3HoL3cymTX9

SR 657 over I-95 (1963)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/yJ4CQuSPc5ujMqse6

VA 33 over I-64 (1966)
https://maps.app.goo.gl/ASCqfzQkVZhfC1RA7
I used to think this was the common standard though most of the country, and anything else I saw pre-dated the Interstate Highway System.

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cl94

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2022, 06:44:41 PM »

Late arrivals to the concrete barrier game were New York and the New England states, which preferred metal rails for most applications until the late 90s, far later than the rest of the country. Major benefits to using metal barriers are lower weight and narrower profile, which is a huge reason why you still see New England and New York installing metal rails for certain applications. On freeways, they tend to be limited to locations where they are replacing older metal rails and are almost never used on new bridges. Surface roads still use metal rails quite frequently, particularly when there is bike/ped traffic.

In the 50s and early 60s, this was the standard used for freeways in much of New York, many examples being supplemented by other barriers: https://goo.gl/maps/KZPzDBgKkWWY6ZfX6
Mid-60s into the 70s, you had a lot of these: https://goo.gl/maps/s9VdVLDU98xU9xvy8
70s-90s was this style, which I still think of as the "dominant" style on New York roads: https://goo.gl/maps/QniWk8FtyGjHmtRa6
The modern style of metal rail is this: https://goo.gl/maps/AYFqwiJPjMizn9TQA

Each of these styles can be modified depending on bike/ped traffic to have up to 5 rails. For example, this is the modern rail used in pedestrian areas: https://goo.gl/maps/iusc5fjk4adm4rcM6
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Mr_Northside

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2022, 01:07:36 PM »

I recall when they were doing major rehab on the Ft. Pitt Bridge (here in Pittsburgh) around the turn-of-the-millennium, the original "pipe" railings were to be replaced with the standard concrete barrier, as it was reported it was the mandated method for safety reasons.   There was enough of an "outcry" about how it would make the views from the bridge (known for it's iconic views of downtown coming out of the tunnel) a lot more blocked on the sides.

They were able to find a compromise that met safety standards, but utilized a metal railing with a sturdier concrete base than the original.  Since then, it's a style used quite often now.

https://goo.gl/maps/giwXUHzEV2JWYrMp8
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Georgia Guardrail

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2022, 03:47:07 PM »

I like the decorative railing.  I notice with the regular concrete barriers more and more they put in grooves to make them look more artistic and fancy from the outside.

It's always a pet peeve of mine when they make the railings too high to see over unless you have a taller vehicle.  Another thing that's really annoying is when they put sound barriers on the guardrail and you can't even tell if you're on a bridge.  (unless you hear yourself go over some concrete)
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Tom958

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2022, 08:07:54 PM »

Texas leaves almost everyone else in the dirt lately.

Two-tube metal rails from Planet Vulcan: https://goo.gl/maps/pUbBLNREP65PuGyNA

Precast Art Deco open concrete rails:  https://goo.gl/maps/fr7dfjNLDqSv62Vv6
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Big John

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2022, 08:23:41 PM »

Texas leaves almost everyone else in the dirt lately.

Two-tube metal rails from Planet Vulcan: https://goo.gl/maps/pUbBLNREP65PuGyNA

Precast Art Deco open concrete rails:  https://goo.gl/maps/fr7dfjNLDqSv62Vv6
So much that the Art Deco one is called a Texas railing.
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Tom958

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2022, 08:46:51 PM »

It's always a pet peeve of mine when they make the railings too high to see over unless you have a taller vehicle.

I think you're gonna be out of luck in Georgia. 42 inches of solid concrete seems to be the new standard, at least for state highways.
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amroad17

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2022, 02:29:36 AM »

Here are two different railings for the James River Bridge: https://goo.gl/maps/7L5Yd9wQr54YwHxr7
The southbound bridge, which is the one the GSV has, was completed in the mid 1970's (1975 or 1976) and had the metal railing parapets atop the concrete.  There is also curbing.  The northbound bridge just has the concrete barrier because that bridge was completed in 1980.  Apparently, the design plans changed between the two bridges, possibly for safety reasons or for cost savings with the metal rails.

A similar occurrence is in Tarboro, NC on the US 64 freeway: https://goo.gl/maps/khJfLTwX2kkCYGqR6
The eastbound bridge over the Tar River, which is the GSV, was completed in the late 1960's as a US 64 two-lane bypass of Princeville and part of Tarboro.  The bypass  began at the intersection of US 64 and Commercial Rd and ended at current Exit 485 (US 258 South).  There was also an intersection where Exit 486 currently is.  When US 64 was constructed as a freeway through the area in the late 1980's, a new westbound bridge needed to be built.  That was constructed to more modern standards with a concrete barrier and no metal railing.
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cowboy_wilhelm

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2022, 08:14:27 PM »

Here are a bunch of cut up railings from the current I-26 Green River rehab project. Not sure if these are the OG railings from the 60s or if they were replaced during the rehab completed in the 90s. Being replaced with sloped concrete barrier.
https://goo.gl/maps/1TA2QVFywzADEX4aA
« Last Edit: August 24, 2022, 08:16:43 PM by cowboy_wilhelm »
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CtrlAltDel

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Re: Bridge Railings
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2022, 10:39:50 AM »

It's always a pet peeve of mine when they make the railings too high to see over unless you have a taller vehicle.

Me too. I like seeing the water, but I don't always get to.
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