Steel barrier system saves lives on Indiana highway

April 26, 2017

Highway work zones are hazardous, both for drivers who must maneuver through traffic control arrangements and for construction workers who operate steps away from passing vehicles. In this environment, a split-second distraction or unexpected incident can have grave consequences. To prevent serious injuries and fatalities, positive protection devices are often deployed. These barriers provide a line of defense for workers and prevent the dangers of motorist roadway departure.

On a September morning, members of a construction crew for Indiana-based contractor Pioneer Associates Inc. were starting their day on a bridge deck overlay project on County Road 28 over I-69, near Fort Wayne, Ind. With work occurring in close proximity to two interstate travel lanes, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) specified the use of a temporary barrier. 

Pioneer chose to install the Zoneguard steel barrier system, in large part because of its trucking advantage and ease of installation. While economics may have prompted Zoneguard’s use, it was the barrier’s crash performance that made a lasting impression.

Zoneguard, approved for use by INDOT and dozens of other state agencies, is a steel temporary barrier system that has been extensively crash-tested to both NCHRP-350 (TL-3 and TL-4) and MASH (TL-3) standards. At only 62 lb per ft, it is Zoneguard’s patented speed-joint connection, rigid cross-section and low center of gravity that enable desired deflection distances.

On that morning, two workers were on a temporary scaffold that was positioned only a few feet from the barrier and another worker was nearby. At around 8 a.m., the driver of a fully loaded dump truck (approximately 60,000 to 70,000 lb) lost control of his vehicle and came barreling towards the work zone. Startled by the loud sound of a collision, the workers gripped the scaffold and braced for a potential impact. When they looked around to survey the scene, they were amazed to find the dump truck halting to a stop on the road’s shoulder after being safely redirected by the barrier.

The Zoneguard barrier system was mostly unaffected and, more importantly, still securely positioned between them and the nearby travel lanes, keeping the two workers, the surrounding crew, the truck driver and passing drivers out of harm’s way.

For this project, Zoneguard had been installed in its Minimum Deflection System anchoring configuration, which limited the deflection to mere inches at the point of impact.

Zoneguard performed as advertised, and Pioneer Associates Inc. was convinced. “Zoneguard saved at least two lives and prevented a serious injury today,” said Project Manager Aaron Jones.