SAFETY: Colorado DOT replaces hundreds of malfunctioning guardrails

The replacements were made after discovering mismatched pairing of guardrail parts had disabled many rails

January 11, 2017

Nearly all of the 367 malfunctioning guardrails across Colorado have been replaced, now correctly absorbing the energy of a crash and returning to their intended purpose—saving lives.

Prior to the fix, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews occasionally paired guardrail parts from separate companies, unintentionally disabling the rails.

CDOT launched a statewide inspection in November, after a crash that almost severed a woman’s foot when she struck a guardrail on I-25 near Johnstown in June.

All of the malfunctioning guardrails on interstates have been fixed except those blocked by snow. The agency has placed protective barrels by those. The agency is working its way through replacements on state highways.

Of the 120,000 crashes in Colorado per year, CDOT says roughly 1,500 involve guardrails, many of which are on interstate highways.

To prevent further improper installations, the department implemented a system requiring maintenance crews to take photos of repaired rails and submit them to a database where engineers can verify that all parts are compatible.

The department created a better storage system to properly label parts and give clear installation instructions. It also revised its training and retrained all maintenance staff.