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David Brand, P.E., P.S.

David Brand, P.E., P.S.

Barriers to Implementing Safety EdgeSM from a local perspective

by David Brand, P.E., P.S. on April 26, 2011
Madison County Engineer
National Association of County Engineers
Roadway Safety Committee, Chair

Implementing Safety EdgeSM is as simple as finally making the decision to add the specification onto your next paving job. It sounds easy, and it really is. A few paragraphs and possibly a few a pay items is all it takes to specify a Safety EdgeSM.

Does that guarantee that you are going to be successful from the start? No, but it's the first and highest hurdle to overcome. Why? Maybe the stereotypes associated with roadway professionals like County Engineers and Public Works Directors are really true:

  • Slow to change.
  • Skeptical of "new fads".
  • Need to see it and feel it to believe it.

If any of those begin to define your thought process, then the only way you are going to truly answer your questions is to see it for yourself, on your own road, under your own maintenance routine, side-by-side with another road without the Safety EdgeSM, apples for apples by completing a project for yourself.

What I see as the barriers/fears that I have experienced or have come across from my peers concerned about implementing a Safety EdgeSM for their first time;

  • HAS MY DOT COMPLETED A Safety EdgeSM PROJECT? Having your State DOT complete a project starts to build an applied knowledge base from which locals can build on. If so, have they adopted the practice of Safety EdgeSM and integrated it into their normal practice? If so, then you are set to hit the ground running.
  • HAS SOMEONE IN YOUR STATE WRITTEN A Safety EdgeSM SPECIFICATION? Since all state laws and contracting specifications are slightly different, knowing someone has broken the ice with a Safety EdgeSM project is always reassuring. The spec, along with all the standard paving contract issues, has to clearly define which manufacturers attachments are permitted to be used, how the contractor is to acquire them, and who owns them after the project is complete.
  • HAVE CONTRACTORS IN YOUR AREA USED A Safety EdgeSM ATTACHMENT? Having local contractor based experience such that there are ample contractors not afraid to submit a bid for Safety EdgeSM is invaluable. If it's just that they saw it at a trade show or attended a presentation, even that goes a long way towards reducing the anxiety of bidding on something that is somewhat unfamiliar. The more familiar, the better the bids.
  • WHAT DOES "CLIPPING" THE ROAD EDGE MEAN? Seeing an edge being "clipped" such that the local entity can determine what makes the most sense for them as to whether this work is done with their own forces or added to the contract bid items makes a big difference as well . Clipping the edge improves the performance by achieving a better interlock with the existing edge.
  • FEAR THAT THE EDGE OF MY NEW ROADWAY WHERE THIS Safety EdgeSM HAS BEEN PLACED WILL BREAK-OFF AFTER A YEAR AND LEAVE ME WITH NO SAFETY IMPROVEMENT AND A MAINTENANCE HEADACHE. All berm types, soils, climate, asphalt specs, and maintenance routines are different. While data continues to show that the Safety EdgeSM is performing well for entities all across the Country, the best answer still comes from seeing it and watching it on your roadway. "Seeing it" is really a misnomer because the goal is to not see the Safety EdgeSM in action because it is buried under the berm almost all the time.

The best part is that all of these barriers/fears can be overcome with a single demo project in your area to shatter all of these barriers at one time.

  • If you haven't heard of a demo project nearby, start looking for opportunities to work with your local partners (DOT, LTAP/TTAP, Contractors) to complete one.
  • If there is one already scheduled, see if you can attend.
  • If a demo has already occurred, visit it with the agency representative who hosted it.

Then it is up to you, make the choice to specify a Safety EdgeSM on your next paving project and answer your questions. See first-hand if Safety EdgeSM belongs in your Safety Toolbox.

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