Development of a test level 4, side-mounted, steel tube bridge rail

Jennifer D. Rasmussen, Scott K. Rosenbaugh, Ronald K. Faller, Robert W. Bielenberg, Joshua S. Steelman, Oscar Pena, Pascual Mauricio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A new, side-mounted, steel beam-and-post bridge rail was designed, crash tested, and evaluated according to safety performance guidelines included in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) for Test Level 4 (TL-4). The new bridge rail system was designed to be compatible with multiple bridge decks, including cast-in-place concrete slabs and prestressed box beams. Additionally, the bridge rail was designed to remain crashworthy after roadway overlays up to 3 in. thick. The bridge rail was designed and optimized based on strength, installation cost, weight per foot, and constructability. The new bridge rail consisted of three rectangular steel tube rails supported by standard steel cross section, W6×15 steel posts spaced at 8 ft on-center. The upper rail was a 12×4×1=4 in. hollow structural section (HSS) steel tube, and the lower two rails were 8×6×1=4 in. HSS steel tubes. The top mounting heights for the upper, middle, and lower rails were 39 in., 32 in., and 20 in. above the surface of the deck, respectively. A new, side-mounted, post-to-deck connection was also developed that incorporated HSS steel spacer tubes that offset the posts 6 in. from the bridge deck and aligned the face of the bridge rail with the edge of the deck. Thus, the traversable width of the bridge was maximized. Three full-scale crash tests corresponding to the MASH TL-4 testing matrix were performed on the new bridge rail. All three crash tests successfully contained and redirected the vehicles and satisfied all MASH evaluation criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-537
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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