The Indiana Department of Transportation is testing a mobile barrier wall designed to boost highway work zone safety.
[Above photo by Indiana DOT]
In a blog post, the agency said the “barrier wall on wheels” is being used for mobile operations on a concrete pavement restoration project on I-80/I-94 between the Illinois state line and I-65 in northwest Indiana.
Indiana DOT said the mobile barrier wall safeguards crews against vehicle incursions and crashes from the front, back, and sides; reduces the number of vehicles and equipment on-site; enables rapid work-zone setup/removal; improves lighting and ambient conditions; and reduces project duration, thus minimizing roadway congestion.
The wheeled barrier wall, which provides 42 to 102 feet of work-zone protection, is attached to a semitrailer, so it is used for roving operations. The agency noted that its only comparable work zone safety tools – short of closing a lane for the entire stretch of an operation – are truck-mounted attenuators or TMAs.
“Using a mobile barrier provides better protection on the sides than TMAs and takes up fewer lanes, which is crucial on I-80/I-94 concerning the Interstate Highways Congestion Policy,” explained Indiana DOT Area Engineer Karen Douthett. “The barrier is ideal for an operation that takes less than a day or has multiple locations that workers must bounce around to.”
On I-80/I-94, INDOT has used the mobile barrier wall on work associated with weigh-in-motion sensors, automatic traffic recorders, drainage structures in the shoulders, and pothole patching.
“Workers have said they feel more protected when using the mobile barrier wall, especially in an unsafe area like I-80/I-94,” said Douthett. “Because the wall takes up fewer lanes, employees can work longer hours at night with the IHCP restrictions.”
Other plans for the mobile barrier wall include using it for sawing operations on I-65 in northwest Indiana, the agency said.