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Modules for bridging openings in road guard
This invention relates to a roadway barrier section for bridging an opening in an otherwise substantially continuous roadway barrier. More particularly, the invention hereof relates to a roadway barrier module for flanking and protecting a roadway obstacle, such as light pole, sign pole, water drain, or the like.

Temporary and permanent roadway barriers have been devised in the past which serve to flank a roadway or are placed in the median of a divided highway. Such roadway barriers are useful in not only protecting property adjacent to the roadway, but also in decreasing the severity of injuries sustained by occupants of a vehicle which departs the roadway. For example, barriers are often used to prevent a vehicle departing the roadway from going over an embankment or crossing the median into oncoming traffic. The most common roadway barriers in current use are of the pre-cast concrete type and the metal guard rail type.

Steel guard rails can be designed to function well over a relatively narrow range of impact severity, based on. vehicle size, weight, speed, and angle of impact. However, metal guard rails are usually permanent installa- tions, and can be relatively expensive if only a temporary barrier is needed. Further, metal guard rails are deficient in many respects in minimizing the severity of impact and the resultant injury to the vehicle occupants. For example, if a vehicle strikes the metal guard rail in the vicinity of a support post there is a tendency for the guard rail to pocket thereby rapidly decelerating the vehicle, instead of gradually redirecting the vehicle.

Concrete barriers are particularly defective in their tendency to rapidly decelerate and sharply redirect a vehicle impacting the barrier. Further, concrete barriers of the so called New Jersey profile include an outwardly extending foot in engagement with the ground. Such a configuration has demonstrated a tendency to overturn smaller size vehicles contacting the barrier.

The inherent deficiencies of metal guard rails and concrete barriers were largely solved by the roadway bar-rier disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 4,423,854, which is incorporated herein by reference. Patent No. 4,423,854 teaches a roadway barrier having corrugated sidewalls and filled with a ballast material. When struck by a vehicle, the barrier of Patent No. 4,423,854 resists pocketing and has a tendency to gradually redirect the vehicle back towards the roadway. Further, the barrier of Patent No. 4,423,854 is displaceable to absorb a portion of the energy of the impacting vehicle, and is designed to prevent overturning of the vehicle.

While the roadway barrier of Patent No. 4,423,854 is a substantial improvement over the use of metal guard rails or concrete barriers, a problem exists when a roadway obstacle lies in the path of the barrier. When a roadway obstacle is encountered in the path of the barrier, the barrier is typically spaced apart on either side of the obstacle leaving an opening in the otherwise continuous barrier. For example, if a light pole lies in the path of a roadway barrier, the barrier is constructed to leave an opening around the light pole. As those skilled in the art will appreciate, such an opening can be' dangerous. That is, the opening in the otherwise continuous barrier provides a region in which an impacting car will be suddenly decelerated, but potentially not redirected. Further, the light pole or other obstacle may present a relatively immovable structure which can produce severe injury to occupants of a vehicle colliding with the pole.

One attempt which has been used commercially by Applicant to solve this problem of bridging a roadway obstacle, was the use of heavy gauge steel, corrugated sidewalls constructed across the opening in the barrier. This attempt did not yield optimum results in that to achieve the desired strength of the sidewall, the sidewall had to be very thick. Further, this attempt did not opti-mally distribute an impacting force over a wide area, which is desirable to prevent pocketing of the sidewall.

Therefore, it would be an advancement in the art if a roadway barrier section were devised which bridged an opening around an obstacle in a relatively continuous roadway barrier and served to redirect vehicles colliding with the barrier section along the barrier.

The problems outlined above are largely solved by the roadway barrier section of the present invention. That is to say, the roadway barrier section hereof serves to provide a continuous roadway barrier, notwithstanding roadway obstacles in the path of the barrier. The barrier section of the present invention protects such obstacles to mini- mize the injury to the occupants and damage to the vehicle departing the roadway in the region of the obstacle. Ad- vantageously, the roadway section hereof is designed to be either a temporary or permanent structure and is relatively inexpensive. Further, the barrier section is configured to widely distribute the force of a vehicle impacting in the area of the obstacle and is designed to redirect the vehicle along the barrier rather than to pocket upon impact.

Broadly speaking, the barrier section of the present invention presents a deflection device which includes an elongated panel having one or more outwardly-projecting undulations. The distal ends of the panel are connected to the portion of the roadway barrier spaced on either side of the roadway obstacle. An elongated stiffener beam is received in one of the panel undulations for providing increased rigidity in the panel. Preferably, the panel includes upper and lower corrugated panel portions with "the.lowermost undulation of the uppe%r panel in juxtaposed, overlapping relation with the uppermost undulation of the lower panel to provide a central region of increased rigidity.

In one form, the deflection device is -designed for use with roadway barrier components of the type disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 4, 423,854. In such an arrangement, the upright bulkheads of the barrier components are disposed in spaced relation on each side of the roadway obstacle. The bridging device of the present invention includes an elongated panel extending between the spaced apart bulk-heads and an elongated stiffener beam disposed between the upright bulkheads. The distal ends of the beam preferably extend past the bulkheads to inhibit catastrophic collapse of the barrier section in the vicinity of bulkheads. In particularly preferred forms, the panel is corrugated, the bulkheads are substantially i perforate and a ballast material is contained within the roadway barrier compon- ent. A sealing means is interposed in the corrugations of the panel of the deflection device adjacent the bulkheads to prevent flow of ballast material into the area of the roadway obstacle.

Fig. 1 is fragmentary, perspective, partially
exploded view of a roadway barrier section of the present invention incorporated into a roadway barrier;

Fig. 2 is a side elevational, fragmentary view of the barrier section hereof with a portion broken away for clarity;

Fig. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken along lines 3-3 of Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 is a fragmentary, perspective, partially e'xploded view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention; and

Fig. 5 is a fragmentary, prospective, partially exploded view of another embodiment of the invention hereof.

Referring now to the drawings, Figures 1-3 illustrate the preferred embodiment of the roadway barrier section 10 in accordance with the present invention. As shown in Figure 1, the section 10 broadly includes a deflection device 12 and a pair of upstanding spaced apart barrier components 14. The barrier section 10 illustrated in

Figures 1-3 is particularly adapted for bridging the space adjacent a roadway obstacle 16 such as a water drain.
However, it will be appreciated that the barrier section 10 can be easily adapted for use with other roadway obstacles 16, such as a light pole.

Broadly speaking, each barrier component 14 includes a substantially imperforate upright bulkhead 20 of a somewhat octagonal configuration and having flattened side margins 22. The flattened margins 22 include a plurality of bolt-receiving holes 24. Each barrier component 14 also includes elongated, corrugated side panels 26 comprised of upper and lower panel portions 28, 30 (See Figs. 2-3). Preferably, each barrier component 14 is filled with a flowable, displaceable ballast material (not shown) and includes a cover 32 overlying the ballast material.

The deflection device 12 broadly includes an elongated panel 40, one or more elongated stiffener beams 42, and connection means 44 for connecting the panel 40 and beams 42 between the bulkheads 20 as shown in Fig. 1.

Preferably, the panel 40 presents an upper elongated panel portion 46 having upper and lower outwardly extending undulations 48, 50. Further, panel 40 includes- a lower panel portion 52 having outwardly extending upper and lower undulations 54, 56 wherein (see Fig. 3). Advantageously, the lower undulation 50 and upper undulation 54 are similar in cross-sectional configuration in such a manner to be easily interfitted in overlapping, juxtaposed relation to form a central region disposed generally along a vertical plane perpendicular to the roadway.

In the preferred embodiment, two stiffener beams 42 are interposed in undulations in the panel body 40 to provide increased rigidity in the body 40. Preferably, a stiffener beam 42 is interfitted in the upper undulation 48 and another stiffener beam 42 is interfitted in the lower undulation 56 (Fig. 3). As shown in Figs. 1, 2, the beams 42 are preferably of such a length that when connected to the bulkheads 20, the distal ends of the beams 42 extend past the respective bulkheads 20.

The connection means 44 comprises a plurality of elongated straps 58 and bolts 60. Preferably, the straps 58 have bolt-receiving holes extending therethrough with nuts welded to respective straps 58 in alignment with the holes such that the bolts 60 can easily be threadingly connected to the straps 58. As shown in Figs. 1-2, the bolts and straps 58 couple the panels to the respective bulkhead 20. For example, as shown in Fig. 2, the upper panel portions 28, 46 have their ends overlapped, with the top right-hand (viewing Fig. 2) bolt 60 extending through the bulkhead 20, strap 58, and panel portions 28, 46. The top left-hand bolt 60 extends through the strap 58 and panel portions 28, 46. In the region of the beams 42, each strap 58 has one end boltingly connected to a bulk-head 20 with the other end boltingly connected to a stiffener beam 42, with the ends of the bolts extending through the overlapped panel portions.

As shown in Figs. 1-3, the deflection device 12 is particularly adapted for use with a water drain. In the preferred embodiment, the device 12 includes a cover 62 similar in configuration to the covers 32 of the barrier components 14. Preferably, the lower panel portion 52 has its lowermost margin spaced from the ground to present a water runoff opening 64 between the ground and the lower panel portion 52 (See Fig. 2).

As best illustrated in Fig. 3, the upper and lower panel portions 46, 52 are connected to the octagonal bulk-heads 20 such that the panel 40 is outwardly bowed towards the roadway. Further, the deflection device 12 includes seals 66 interfitted between the respective bulkhead 20 and the panel body 40 in the region of the undulations to prevent flow of the ballast material from the barrier component 14 past the bulkhead 20.

Turning to Fig. 4, an alternative embodiment of the roadway barrier section 10 is illustrated. Like components of the embodiment of Fig. 4 have retained the same numerals as applied to the identical components of the preferred embodiment of Figs. 1-3. The embodiment of Fig. 4 includes an elongated stiffener beam 70 which is trapezoidal in cross-section and presents elongated open channel on one side thereof. As illustrated in Fig. 4, the two beams 70 are identical, but are realigned to be comp-limentally received in the respective undulations 48, 56. The connection means 44 includes upper and lower retainer plates 72, 74 for holding the stiffener beams 70 stationary relative to a bulkhead 20. The retainer plates 72, 74 are attached to the bulkhead 20 and to the panel body 40 utilizing the straps 58 and bolts 60. Advantageously, each retainer plate 72, 74 presents a flange 76 which serves to not only prevent longitudinal sliding movement of the beams 70, but also to prevent flow of the ballast material out of the barrier component 14. Thus, during assembly, the beams 70 are received in their respective undulations 48, 56, with the distal ends of the beams 70 abutting the respective flanges 76. A seal 66 is interfitted in the overlapped region of undulations 50, 54 similar to the preferred embodiment.

Turning now to Fig. 5, a further embodiment is illustrated with like components numbered in accordance with the identical components of the embodiment of Figs. 1-3. The roadway barrier section 10 of Fig. 5 presents a pair of elongated, trapezoidal in cross-section closed channel stiffener beams 80. Stiffener braces 82 are vertically secured to adjacent straps 58 remote from the bulkheads 20, as shown in Fig. 5. Bolts 60 secure the beams 80 to stiffener braces 82.

The disclosure of U.S. patent 4,423,854 discusses in more detail the advantages and functioning of the roadway barrier. Preferably, the roadway barrier components 14 are serially arranged on the side of the roadway or in the median between two adjacent highways. The barrier functions to deform under vehicle impact to absorb energy and gradually deflect a straying vehicle coming into contact with the barrier. The barrier components 14 are designed to slowly deflect a straying vehicle with a view towards minimizing damage to the vehicle and injury to its occupants. Further, the barrier components 14 are designed to prevent ramping of the vehicle on the barrier, which might cause overturning of the vehicle.

When the barrier components 14 are placed either adjacent to the roadway or in the median of a highway, a roadway obstacle 16 is often encountered in the path of the barrier. If the roadway obstacle is a water drain and a barrier component 14 were placed on the drain, water * runoff from the .roadway would be blocked. If the roadway obstacle is a light pole, the same problem exists, in that the roadway barrier must be spaced from the pole. In any event, the spacing of the barrier components 14 from the roadway obstacle 16, is undesirable in that the continuity of the barrier is lost and a potentially dangerous open area around the obstacle is created.

The roadway barrier section 10 of the present invention is effective in bridging over the open area surround- ing a roadway obstacle 16 in such a fashion that the roadway barrier is continuous. Advantageously, the barrier section 10 is constructed to redirect a vehicle impacting the barrier section 10 back towards the roadway. The outwardly bowed cross-sectional configuration of the panel 40 serves to prevent ramping and overturning of a vehicle striking the barrier. The overlapped undulations 50, 54 and the stiffener beams 42 received in the undulations 48, 56 provide increased strength and rigidity in the panel 40. The extension of the beams 42 past the respective bulkheads 20 has a tendency to distribute the force of an impacting vehicle over a wide area. Thus, catastrophic collapse of the section 10 in the vicinity of the bulk*-heads 20 is inhibited and upon vehicle impact the section 10 serves to direct the vehicle back towards the roadway without pocketing. It will be appreciated that if barrier section 10 were to pocket in the vicinity of bulkhead 20, the vehicle might be rapidly decelerated.

If the obstacle 16 is a light pole or the like, the barrier section 10 is easily adapted to bridge the opening around the pole. For example, the lower panel portion can be dimensioned to extend to ground level, the opening 64 being eliminated. Futher, the cover 62 can be eliminated or a hole constructed through which the pole may pass.- If it is desired to extend a roadway barrier over a bridge or the like where barrier weight is critical, the barrier section 10 is useful when incorporated in such a barrier in reducing the overall weight. For example, a continuous barrier crossing a bridge, might incorporate alternating barrier components 14 and deflection devices 12.

The roadway barrier section 10 of the present invention serves to effectively bridge the opening in a roadway barrier around a roadway obstacle 16. Use of the barrier section 10 in accordance with the present invention provides a continuous roadway barrier, while accommodating roadway obstacles in the path of the barrier.