Civil Engineering


Date of this Version



Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2120, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2009, pp. 47–59. DOI: 10.3141/2120-06


A modified Midwest Guardrail System (MGS) was developed by using small-diameter round wood posts. The barrier system was configured with three timber species: Douglas fir (DF), ponderosa pine (PP), and southern yellow pine (SYP). Barrier VII computer simulation, combined with cantilever post testing in a rigid sleeve and soil, was used to determine the required post diameter for each species. The recommended nominal sizes were 184 mm (7.25 in.) for DF, 203 mm (8 in.) for PP, and 190 mm (7.5 in.) for SYP. A grading criterion limiting knot size and ring density was established for each species. The recommended knot sizes were limited to 38 mm (1.5 in.) or smaller for DF, 89 mm (3.5 in.) or smaller for PP, and 64 mm (2.5 in.) or smaller for SYP. The minimum ring densities equaled or exceeded 6 rings per inch (rpi) for DF, 6 rpi for PP, and 4 rpi for SYP. Two guardrail systems— one using DF posts and another using PP posts—were crash tested according to the Test Level 3 requirements specified in NCHRP Report 350: Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features. Crash testing was not conducted on the SYP system because of the adequacy of previous testing on 184-mm (7.25-in.) diameter SYP posts in a standard W-beam guardrail system and post design strength comparable to that in the other two species. Both crash tests showed that the modified MGS functioned adequately for both wood species. Three round wood post alternatives were recommended as an acceptable substitute for the standard W152×13.4 (W6×9) steel post used in the MGS.