Civil and Environmental Engineering


First Advisor

Professor Mojdeh A. Pajouh

Date of this Version


Document Type



Ruskamp, R.J., Development of a Next-Generation Non-Proprietary Portable Concrete Barrier, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2022.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Civil Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Mojdeh A. Pajouh. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2022

Copyright 2022 Riley Ruskamp


Portable concrete barriers (PCBs) are segmented barriers made of precast concrete units that are connected by various load-bearing hardware. PCBs are typically used to shield work zones by redirecting errant vehicles upon impact with the barrier system. Most commonly-available PCBs have demonstrated performance issues arising from the sloped face of the barrier, which encourages vehicles to pitch and roll during impact, potentially resulting in vehicle rollover. Concerns also exist regarding the large dynamic deflections exhibited by these systems that can encroach upon the protected work zone or require anchoring to prevent large displacements. In addition to these concerns, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) updated the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) in 2016, which improved the criteria for evaluating roadside safety devices and required the re-evaluation of barrier systems developed before the updated standards were published. Thus, an opportunity existed to develop a next-generation PCB system capable of meeting the new MASH 2016 criteria while addressing the concerns of the current generation of PCBs.

The objective of this research effort funded by the Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC) was to further develop and investigate PCB concept designs that were brainstormed under a parallel research effort at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) funded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. This research consisted of the development of finite element models of the PCB design concepts for use in LS-DYNA simulations, followed by the comparison of the simulation results to a current PCB system that has been previously modeled and validated.

The simulation analysis identified three PCB concepts as viable designs, while three other PCB concepts were not recommended based on the simulation performance. Upon completion of the simulation analysis, the simulation results of the six PCB concepts were presented to Midwest Pooled Fund Program member states. Finally, a single concept, that used interlocking and staggered precast concrete segments without the need for connection hardware, was selected for further design and full-scale crash testing in the next phase of the research.

Advisor: Mojdeh A. Pajouh