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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-SA-98-083
Date: October 1998

Improving Highway Safety at Bridges on Local Roads and Streets




This publication was developed by the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Highway Safety and has been produced by the FHWNs Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) for distribution through the LTAP Center network to the local, tribal, and rural governments.

The Federal Highway Administration's Local Technical Assistance Program is a network of 57 centers nationwide. The purpose of the LTAP is to stimulate the progressive and cost–effective transfer of highway technology and technical assistance to local, tribal, and rural governments. The L:TAP accomplishes this by funding a variety of activities and projects that link local highway agencies, tribal governments, the States, universities and the Federal Government. The LTAP brings transportation technology transfer services, products, and educational resources to the local level. LTAP centers are located in each State and Puerto Rico. Six additional centers assist American Indian Tribal governments.

While each of the LTAP centers has the flexibility to tailor its program to the needs of local customers, there are six basic requirements that are common throughout the entire network. The requirements are: (1) each center must publish a quarterly newsletter; (2) distribute technology transfer materials; (3) provide an information service; (4) provide at least ten training courses; (5) evaluate the effectiveness of the program and; (6) compile and maintain a mailing list of tribal, local, and rural officials having transportation responsibilities.

The centers use a mix of technology transfer tools and marketing activities to meet its customer needs. Some typical endeavors include: training workshops; on site demonstrations and "hands on" training; "road shows" or circuit–rider programs that take training on the road; microcomputer software development; adaptation and distribution of technical publications and user manuals, studies on specialized topics; lending libraries for videos, publications, and other such materials.

This pamphlet is intended as a general guide to effective, low–cost methods of improving and enhancing bridge and bridge approach safety. It is not a design manual or a substitute for engineering knowledge, experience, or judgement. Technical safety information such as bridge standards, crash–worthy approach rail systems and their attachment to the bridge rail, highway and bridge width, and development of highway alignments can be found in the material listed in the references. The guidance and information included in this pamphlet are based on actual situations and common existing bridge and roadway features identified through national reviews. Some of the information provided in this pamphlet reflects a type of cost–effective improvement that can be made as a temporary measure before a bridge and/or bridge approach is reconstructed to current standards. Nationally bridges and bridge approaches have been identified as one of the leading locations for severe, single–vehicle crashes. There are many bridges and large culverts on the highway system. Most have rigid rails and often span a potentially hazardous feature. Many of these structures were built decades ago for highways of lower speed and less traffic. Because of the high cost of replacing bridges and the long service life of many bridges, replacement of the bridge or major component of a bridge, such as the bridge deck or bridge rails, may not be a priority while the bridge remains structurally adequate. In situations where it is considered inappropriate to reconstruct the bridge or some element of the bridge to current standards, temporary improvements, while not resolving a substandard condition, can significantly contribute to improving highway safety. A temporary safety improvement may be considered when work is done to improve the safety or reduce the potentially hazardous nature of components or features of the bridge or roadway approaching the bridge. A safety improvement is considered temporary when it doesn't fully satisfy current design standards, but provides a significant improvement over existing conditions to warrant its application until the bridge and/or the approach roadway can be reconstructed to current design standards. Temporary improvements are not considered substitutes for design standards and should not be used as a substitute or justification for delaying rehabilitation of a bridge and/or bridge approach.


Improving Highway Safety at Bridges on Local Roads and Streets

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