Roadside safety facility honored by National Academies board

Released on 12/21/2011, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., December 21st, 2011 —
A test of the bridge railing
A test of the bridge railing

         The National Academies' Transportation Research Board will honor the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility with its 2011 Practice-Ready Paper Award, recognizing MwRSF's work on safety barriers to benefit highway drivers.

            The award is given annually to an outstanding published paper that is judged to have the best potential for immediate implementation in the design and construction of transportation facilities, said Thomas J.Kazmierowski, Design and Construction Group chair with the TRB. The UNL entry was selected by the TRB Design and Construction Group as one of eight awards this year.

            In its paper, "Development of Low-Cost Energy-Absorbing Bridge Rail," the facility applied the design and proven merits of its SAFER barrier, now in use at NASCAR tracks, for public highways.

            Team members Dean Sicking, Karla Lechtenberg, John Reid, Ronald Faller, Robert Bielenberg and Scott Rosenbaugh will accept the award in January in Washington, D.C., during TRB's 91st annual meeting.

            "MwRSF worked to design a new bridge rail using the Midwest guard rail system technology that has been established for more than five years," said Lechtenberg, a research associate engineer with MwRSF. "The new bridge system will mitigate the amount of damage to the bridge deck if impacted by a vehicle, plus minimize the amount of space needed to install the rail on the deck."

            Lechtenberg said the low-cost, energy-absorbing bridge rail will "help reduce costs for states installing these bridge rails instead of (traditional) big concrete bridge rails." She said the MwRSF design isalso easy to repair and with very low cost.

            She said this TRB recognition for MwRSF, part of the Nebraska Transportation Center, will also benefit UNL and its role in the Mid-America Transportation Center: to help earn more projects for NTC, where students working with MwRSF get real-world design experience.

            MwRSF is working on another project to implement similar technology on culverts.

Writer: JS Engebretson, Communications and Marketing Manager, Engineering, 402-472-6229

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