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Thursday, August 9, 2018

PennDOT Unveils Plan to Upgrade Guiderail, End Treatments

In line with changing federal standards for guiderail and guiderail end treatments, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced a new long-range plan to upgrade these devices across the roughly 40,000-mile state-maintained highway network.

The enhanced asset management approach includes improved data collection for identifying maintenance needs for guiderail and guiderail end treatments, processes that drive corrective measures, and assessments of when guiderail has reached the end of its service life.

Beginning in 2019, PennDOT over a three-year span, will systemically upgrade and replace end treatments on the Interstate system with end treatments that meet new standards adopted this year by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH).

“With changes in vehicle designs, AASHTO has embraced new standards, and our commitment is to meet the challenge of ensuring our guiderail and guiderail end treatment inventory is up to date,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Safety is PennDOT’s top priority and these steps reflect our intent to keep our system as safe as possible.”

The estimated cost for the three-year upgrade to the Interstate system is $45 million.

Moving beyond the interstate system, PennDOT will upgrade guiderail and end treatments, as appropriate, as part of new, reconstruction and pavement preservation projects listed on the 12-Year Program for expressways, National Highway System routes and lower volume roads. Additionally, upgrade programs relative to systems that are approaching the end of their useful life will require the advancement of guiderail-specific projects. These parts of the plan will be prioritized by network, with the higher volume roads being upgraded first and with priority given to hardware that does not meet current standards.

For addressing the systematic program upgrades, including on lower volume networks, the plan envisions increasing the current $44 million annual budget for guiderail upgrades to roughly $70 million to $90 million annually over the next 12 to 15 years.

Across Pennsylvania, the 40,000-mile state-maintained road network has 9,700 miles of guiderail, including 1,500 miles on the Interstates, 2,300 miles on the National Highway System off the Interstates, and 5,900 miles on lower volume state routes.

“Addressing these needs is an important part of our maintenance work, but this program is over and above such ongoing issues as taking care of pavement needs,” Richards said. “We are fortunate that we are able to tackle this challenge with resources now available to PennDOT and generated by the drivers who use our large system.”

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