Photo courtesy Andy Shaffer/stock.xchng/
Today, we’re going to get into the zone – the construction zone – on Engineering Works.
Everybody likes a smooth commute. Nobody likes to see traffic backing up for a construction zone. Even when construction crews are busy repairing or improving roads and streets, we still need to get the kids off to school and get to work ourselves. But it seems like everywhere we drive these days, we run into highway construction.
Well, not exactly. Engineers spend a lot of time and trouble making sure we don’t run into the construction. Portable concrete barriers are one way to keep traffic moving alongside the jackhammers and asphalt spreaders and protect construction workers from wayward vehicles.
For years, these concrete barriers were 32 inches high – about the height of your desk, at work. These barriers worked well for one-way traffic through the work zone. But when you added oncoming traffic, the number of crashes went up.
Here’s why. When the traffic is two-way, drivers pulling out of side roads and driveways couldn’t see over the 32-inch-high barriers. And at night, oncoming headlights were hard to see.
Engineers at the Texas Transportation Institute found that shorter concrete barriers could still do the job. They developed a low-profile design – only 20 inches tall. The shorter height makes oncoming and cross traffic easier to see. The result? Fewer construction zone crashes.
That’s the end of the road for today. See you on down the highway.
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