Successful Jersey barrier business in Clarks Summit, Pa.

Gradall XL 5100 III excavator
Gradall XL 5100 III excavator

The success of Interstate Safety Service Inc. relies heavily on its ability to efficiently load, transport, unload and place concrete highway barriers—often called Jersey barriers.

Interstate manufactures barriers in several sizes at its location in Clarks Summit, Pa., north of Pittsburgh. The company either sells them or rents them to divert traffic and protect workers and pedestrians, working with contractors, governments, oil-and-gas exploration companies and others.

Driving an excavator to the barrier-installation site, rather than using a crane or a conventional excavator, completely eliminates the need for a lowboy trailer, said Jeff Columbo, whose family has owned Interstate since its founding in 1965.

Working on S.R. 29 in the village of Palm, where a bridge-replacement project was under way, the Interstate crew was setting 200 ft of 42-in. barriers, each weighing 9,200 lb. At each end of the line of barriers were several crash attenuators, each 25 ft in length and weighing about 2,500 lb.

Blocking off one lane of the two-lane bridge, barriers were set using chains as well as a specialized barrier-handling attachment. During the process, operator Joe Bernick repositioned the carrier from the operator cab, removing barriers and attenuators from a flatbed trailer and then moving up and down the length of the jobsite, aligning barriers from inside the job perimeter. Due to the short tail swing of the Gradall XL 5100 III excavator Bernick was operating, one lane of traffic flow could continue on the bridge while the barriers were being placed.

“I can typically unload and place 12 barriers in six minutes,” said Bernick. “That’s a lot faster than if I was using a crane, plus there’s a lot less sway.”

Driving the excavator at highway speed, Bernick was able to make the trip to the jobsite in Palm in about two hours. “I can get on the job a lot faster than if I was relying on a trailer to bring a machine to the job,” he said.

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