How to calculate Length of need for a Barrier

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How to calculate Length of need for a Barrier

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Overview

The shape of the obstacle, its location with respect to travel lanes, the volume of traffic and its

corresponding clear zone width are the primary variables influencing length of barrier need.

Variables

After all practical means to free the roadside of obstacles have been exhausted, certain areas may

remain which constitute an obstacle to errant vehicles. These areas, as illustrated in Figure A-6,

will be referred to an “area of concern.”

Figure A-6 illustrates the variables of interest in the layout of approach barrier to shield an area

of concern. Length of need is equal to the sum of the following variables:

length of barrier parallel to the area of concern, Lp,

the length of downstream barrier, Ld.

Lu is the length of guard fence needed to protect traffic adjacent to proposed guard fence.

Upstream refers to the guard fence upstream of traffic adjacent to proposed guard fence. While

Ld is the length of guard fence needed to protect the opposing traffic. For roadways serving one-

way traffic operations, Ld = 0. Ld is greater than zero for two-way operations when the area of

concern lies within the clear zone of opposing (northbound in Figure A-6) traffic as measured

from the centerline pavement markings.

Figure A-7. Variables Involved in Barrier Layout. Click here to see a PDF of the image.

In certain instances judgment should be exercised to supplement design chart solutions and

provide for public safety. For example, high severity fixed objects (e.g., bridge columns) may

justify minimum guard fence treatment where located slightly outside the clear zone if geometric

conditions (i.e., steep fill slope, outside of horizontal curvature, etc.) increase the likelihood of

roadside encroachments.

Design Equations

To determine needed length of guard fence for a given obstacle, design equations have been

formulated for low volume (ADT 750 or less) and higher volume (ADT more than 750)

conditions. A clear zone width of 16 ft [4.9 m] and length of roadside travel of 200 ft [61 m] are

incorporated in the low volume design equation (for use on roadways when the present ADT

volume is 750 or less). Also, if the clear zone required is less than 16 ft [4.9 m] and the present

ADT is 750 or less, use Equation A-1 for calculating the guard fence length of need.

Equation A-1.

Equation A-2.

Equation A-3.

ADT > 750

Equation A-4.

Where:

Ld = Length of guard fence needed (downstream of area of concern), ft

Du = Distance from edge of travel lane to far side of area of concern or to outside edge of

clear zone, whichever is least, ft (for upstream direction of traffic)

Dd = Distance from edge of travel lane to far side of area of concern or to outside edge of

clear zone, whichever is least, ft (for opposing direction of traffic)

Gu = Guard fence offset from edge of travel lane adjacent to proposed guard fence, ft

Gd = Guard fence offset from edge of opposing direction of travel lane (centerline)

For low volume conditions, if the clear zone width (16 ft [4.9 m]) is met or exceeded, L=0.

For higher volumes, a clear zone width of 30 ft [9 m] and length of roadside travel of 250 ft [76

m] are incorporated into the design equation (for use on roadways when the present ADT volume

is more than 750 or the recommended clear zone is greater than 16 ft [4.9 m]):

For high volume conditions, if the clear zone width (30 ft [9 m]) is met or exceeded, L=0.

The length of need for guard fence, as illustrated below in equation A-5, is equal to the sum of

the required upstream length (Lu), the guard fence length parallel to the area of concern Lp, and

the required downstream length.

Equation A-5.

Where:

Before determining length of guard fence, the designer should assemble the following pertinent

data:

clear zone (horizontal clearance)

traffic operations (one-way or two-way)

lateral and longitudinal dimension of the area of concern

shoulder width

offset distance of the area of concern from the edge of travel lane (including from the

centerline markings for two-way traffic operations)

design slope conditions, (i.e. will slopes be 1V:10H or flatter?)

placement location (alongside shoulder vs. near object, flared, etc.)

presence of other nearby areas of concern which should be considered simultaneously.

Once this design data has been assembled, the appropriate equation can be used.

Where the prescribed length of the guard fence cannot be installed at a bridge end due to an

intervening access point such as an intersecting roadway or driveway, the length of guard fence

may be interrupted or reduced. This change in length is acceptable only in locations where the

Department must meet the obligation to provide access and this access cannot be reasonably

relocated. Alternative treatments in these situations include wrapping the guard fence around the

radius of the access location, terminating the guard fence prior to the access location with an

appropriate end treatment and continuing the guard fence beyond the access location if necessary

or using an alternate bridge end treatment. The selected treatment should consider potential sight

line obstructions, cost and maintenance associated with the selected treatment and any accident

history at the site. Reduced guard fence length to accommodate access points will not require a

design exception or a design waiver.

The Example Problems section provides example problems and solutions using the design

equations. The guard fence lengths produced by the equations should be rounded up to an even

length of guard fence.

http://onlinemanuals.txdot.gov/txdotmanuals/rdw/determining_length_of_need_of_barriers.htm

http://onlinemanuals.txdot.gov/txdotmanuals/rdw/example_problems.htm

http://onlinemanuals.txdot.gov/manuals/AlphaList.html

Section 7: Example Problems

Example Problem 1

Given: A rural two-lane collector highway containing 6 ft [1.8 m] wide shoulders and a current

ADT of 500 is illustrated in Figure A-8. The area of concern is a 16 ft [4.9 m] design clear zone

that includes 1V:2H side slopes on a 10 ft [3 m] high embankment section that is 125 ft [38 m] in

length alongside the highway.

Figure A-8. Example 1 Problem Layout Rural Low Volume. Click here to see a PDF of the

image.

Solution: From the information above and referring to Figure A-1 it is determined that a “rail is

needed.” As shown in Equation A-5, the length of need is Ltotal = Lu+Lp+Ld. From the given

information, Lp = 125 ft [38 m]. Because the ADT is less than 750, Equations A-1 and A-2 are

used to solve for Lu and Ld , respectively (if necessary).

For the upstream direction, the area of concern is the full (16 ft [4.9 m]) clear zone width and the

guard fence offset (Gu) is 6 ft [1.8 m]. Substituting in Equation A-1.

(US Customary):

A placement of guard fence alongside the 6 ft [1.8 m]-wide shoulder results in Lu = 125 ft [38

m].

Referring to figure A-8, the length of guard fence needed in the downstream is zero because the

offset distance from the edge of the travel lane (centerline marking) to the area of concern is

greater than the design clear zone (17 ft [5.1 m] greater than 16 ft [4.9 m]). Therefore, Ld is zero.

The design placement is shown in Figure A-9 including 125 ft [38 m] of guard fence adjacent to

the obstacle plus 125 ft [38 m] shielding traffic adjacent to proposed guard fence upstream of the

obstacle. These lengths of need do not include end treatments.

Figure A-9. Example 1 Problem Solution Guard fence Layout

Example Problem 2

Given: A rural two-lane arterial highway containing a shoulder width of 8 ft [2.4 m] and a

current ADT of 3500 is illustrated in Figure A-10. The areas of concern are bridge bents located

5 ft [1.5 m] from the edge of shoulder. The side slopes are 1V:6H.

Figure A-10. Example 2 Problem Layout Rural High Volume.

Solution: Referring to Table A-1: General Applications of Conditions for Roadside Barriers

bridge piers within the clear zone (30 ft [9 m] in this case) indicates guard fence placement for

the north side of the roadway displayed in Figure A-10. As shown in Equation A-5 the length of

need is Ltotal = Lu+Lp+Ld. Therefore, Lp is 34 ft [10.4 m] from the given (see Figure A-10)

information. Because the ADT is greater than 750, Equations A-3 and A-4 are used to find Lu

and Ld (if necessary), respectively:

(US Customary):

Substituting in the equation, the upstream length (Lu) is 116.5 ft [35.5 m] if placement is at the

shoulder edge.

The downstream (westbound traffic) length of guard fence is also determined by substituting into

Equation A-4:

(US Customary):

Ld is 65 ft [19.7 m] as shown above, based on the shoulder edge placement. For westbound

traffic, the centerline is the edge of the travel lane and thus guard fence offset (G) is 20 ft [6 m]

(12 ft [3.6 m] lane plus 8 ft [2.4 m] shoulder) from the edge of the travel lane.

Total length of guard fence, Lu+Lp+Ld, thus is 116.5 ft [35.5 m] + 34 ft [10.4 m] + 65 ft [19.7 m]

or 215.5 ft [62.3 m]; or, rounded to an even length of guard fence, 225 ft [68.6m].

The solution for the south side of the roadway yields the same results, hence placement should

be as shown in Figure A-11.

Figure A-11. Example 2 Problem Solution Guard fence Layout. Click here to see a PDF of the

image.

Example Problem 3

Given: A divided (76 ft [22.8 m] median) highway with 4 ft [1.2 m] left and 10 ft [3.0 m] right

shoulder widths is illustrated in Figure A-12. The median slopes are 1V:10H, and the outside

side slopes are 1V:6H. The cross sectional design allows for the addition of a future lane on the

median side of the present lanes. The areas of concern are overhead sign bridge supports offset

25 ft [7.6 m] left and 18 ft [5.5 m] right from edge of the travel lanes as shown below. The ADT

is 10,000.

Figure A-12. Example 3 Problem Layout Divided Highway.

Solution: Crash cushions in lieu of guard fence should be considered, particularly for facilities

with higher than 10,000 ADT. For this example problem assume crash cushions are not cost

effective.

Because the median is sloped at 1V:10H, as shown in Figure A-12, guard fence may be placed

thereon (see Figure A-5,). Therefore place the guard fence such that the back of the posts are 5 ft

[1.5 m] in front of the median overhead sign bridge support to allow for deflection, i.e., 20 ft [6.0

m] from the edge of the travel lanes (including the 1.5 ft [0.5 m] from the back of the post to the

face of the rail).

Referring to Equation A-5, Ltotal = Lu+Lp+Ld. For one-way traffic operations, Ld=0; furthermore,

for the overhead sign bridge support Lp=0. Equation A-3 is used to find Lu because ADT is

greater than 750:

(US Customary):

Equation A-6

For the median side, Lu = 65 ft [20 m] (rounded to 75 ft [22.9 m] to conform to even lengths of

guard fence) based on parallel placement for the full length of need, and placement on the

1V:10H slope 5 ft [1.5 m] in front of the fixed object. In contrast, parallel placement at the

shoulder edge would have required over 200 ft [60 m] of guard fence.

For the right side of traffic, guard fence must be placed at the shoulder edge (Reference Figure

A-5). Substituting in Equation A-3 to determine Lu:

(US Customary):

Equation A-7

Using parallel placement for the entire length, Lu = 111 ft [34.5 m] (which should be rounded to

125 ft [38] to conform to even lengths of guard fence).

Using parallel placement for the entire length of guard fence for both the median and left side,

placement is as shown in Figure A-13.

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