Scotland TranServ, working on behalf of Transport Scotland, has completed a vehicle safety barrier replacement project on the Erskine Bridge.
Alongside contractor Highway Barrier Solutions (HBS), the Scotland TranServ project team worked to identify best practice and the safest possible solution for the 40,000 motorists crossing the bridge every day.
Scotland TranServ project manager, Colin Anderson, said: “It was about thinking out of the box, and looking at other areas of transport to identify the best and safest solution for Erskine Bridge drivers. Working with specialist consultants, Flint and Neill, we looked at railway safety barrier design and identified that when adapted, these might offer the best protection for both HGV drivers and for car drivers. The barriers were specially designed to cushion the impact of being hit at speed by a lorry, and that were they to be hit by a car they wouldn’t deflect the car across two lanes but more so slide it along the barrier and keep it in the same lane.
“One of the other issues we had to look at was the design of the bridge itself, and the weather conditions which also impact on the bridge. It can be really blustery up there and the last thing we wanted was for the barriers to add drag to the structure. That’s why we went to Denmark to test the design and a scale model of the bridge in a specialist wind tunnel for aerodynamics. A poor design could have ultimately threatened the structure of the bridge itself.”
These high containment barriers are specially designed to stop heavy goods vehicles breaching the barrier at 50mph and at a 20° angle of impact. The design and construction team carried out full vehicle impact studies. The lower rail is designed such that it absorbs the impact and slides the car along the barrier rather than deflecting it into adjacent lanes, thus further improving safety.
Jerry Cutter from specialist consultants, Flint and Neill, added: “The Erskine Bridge replacement barrier development presented many challenges to the design team. The barriers needed to ensure that the bridge structure is protected from impact by heavy, errant vehicles whilst ensuring that the barriers would not present a danger to the occupants of vehicles of any size.”
There is also a sustainable element of the project, with miles of ageing, now redundant barriers removed, an environmentally-friendly solution had to be found for their disposal. Bridge contractors Highway Barrier Solutions (HBS) identified that.
The southbound vehicle safety barrier replacement work on the bridge was completed ahead of schedule last week.
Russell Rennie, Scotland TranServ’s contract director, concluded: “Across the south west, Scotland TranServ is working on behalf of Transport Scotland to improve trunk road safety, road surfacing and the driver experience. It is important to us that we carry out our work as efficiently and effectively as possible, but at the same time that we consider the needs of drivers and neighbouring communities. We have made every effort to ensure that the Erskine Bridge vehicle safety barrier replacement project was carried out as quickly and efficiently as we could, with minimal disruption to drivers and to those communities living beside the bridge.”