Date of this Version
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH RECORD 1656
Bridge railing systems in the United States have historically been designed based on static load criteria given in the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges. In the past decade, full-scale vehicle crash testing has been recognized as a more appropriate and reliable method of evaluating bridge railing acceptability. In 1989, AASHTO published the Guide Specifications for Bridge Railings, which gave the recommendations and procedures to evaluate bridge rails by full-scale vehicle crash testing. In 1993, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) published Report 350: Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features, which provided criteria for evaluating longitudinal barriers. Based on these specifications, a cooperative research program was initiated between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Forest Products Laboratory, and later the FHWA, to develop and crash test 11 bridge rails for wood deck bridges. The research that resulted in successful development and testing of 11 bridge railing systems for longitudinally and transversely laminated wood bridge decks in accordance with AASHTO Performance Level 1 and 2 (PL-1 and PL-2) requirements and Test Levels 1, 2, and 4 (TL-1, TL-2, and TL-4) requirements of NCHRP Report 350 are described here.