5 Things You Should Know About K-Rail Barrier Wall
K-rail barriers are concrete, steel-enforced barriers used to divide lanes of highway traffic. Though these barriers were originally designed to prevent head-on collisions, they’ve since been adapted to protect perimeters, define walkways, and block access to construction zones, sports arenas, concerts, and more.
1) They’re Mostly Called K-Rails In California
Though the K-rail barrier has its origins in California, the original design was adapted and improved by the state of New Jersey to separately be called jersey barriers. Today, k-rail barrier wall is most commonly employed in the pacific region, including California.
2) They Have a Unique Backstory
Before the concrete highway barrier, wooden guardrails were used to separate lanes of traffic. Unfortunately, these guardrails were flimsy and did little to stop out of control vehicles from veering into oncoming lanes. This problem was particularly prevalent along a stretch of California highway nicknamed “Dead Man’s Curve,” which is known for its steep, sloped incline. As a solution, the original wooden guardrails were replaced by concrete barriers. These new barriers successfully reduced the number of deadly head-on collisions along Dead Man’s Curve, and their design was quickly adopted across the U.S.
3) They are Designed to Minimize Damage
When the state of New Jersey took over the K-rail design, its engineers crafted the barriers not only to stop head-on collisions, but also to prevent damage to incoming cars (and injury to vehicle passengers). In shallow-angle hits, a car’s tires will ride up the sloped face of the barrier, which forces the car to pivot away from oncoming traffic and back into its original direction. Furthermore, this “slide” prevents vehicles from rolling over, further protecting passengers from injury.
4) They’re Made with Precast Concrete
Usually, a K-rail barrier is made of poured concrete that is reinforced with embedded steel. The steel reinforcements protrude from each end of the barrier, allowing separate segments to be linked together. There are various types of barrier wall connections including JJ-hook connections, loop and pin connections, and more.
5) Their Design Has Improved, But It’s Not Perfect
While today's K-rail barriers are better at preventing rollover accidents, they’re not perfect. If a car is too small, the K-rail design is less effective, and the car might roll over anyway. To address this problem, an alternate barrier was created, which is known as the F-Shape barrier. F-Shape barriers have the same 3-inch-high base as a K-rail barrier, but they feature a side that slopes 10 inches above the pavement rather than the 13-inch side slope of the K-rail, which allows them to better absorb impacts from smaller vehicles.
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