Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2638 (2017), pp 77–87.

doi 10.3141/2638-09


Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Road construction often requires that work zones be created and shielded by portable concrete barriers (PCBs) to protect workers and equipment from errant vehicles as well as to prevent motorists from striking other roadside hazards. For an existing W-beam guardrail system installed adjacent to the roadway and near the work zone, guardrail sections are removed so a PCB system can be placed. A study was done to develop a crashworthy transition between W-beam guardrail and PCB systems. Design concepts were developed and refined through computer simulation with LS-DYNA. Additionally, a study of critical impact points was conducted to determine impact locations for full-scale crash testing. The design effort resulted in a new system consisting of a Midwest Guardrail System that overlapped a series of F-shape PCB segments placed at a 15:1 flare. In the overlapped region of the barrier systems, uniquely designed block-out supports and a specialized W-beam end shoe mounting bracket were used to connect the systems. Three full-scale vehicle crash tests were successfully conducted according to the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware Test Level 3 safety performance criteria. Because of the successful test results, a Test Level 3 crashworthy guardrail-to-PCB transition system is now available for protecting motorists, workers, and equipment in work zones.