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Steel loses in barrier battle

THE CONCRETE industry is claiming victory in the battle for domination of the highway crash barrier market.

Concrete roads lobby group Britpave trumpeted the publication of a Highways Agency advisory note this week that favours use of concrete crash barriers on the motorway network over steel alternatives.

The note says: 'A review has been carried out comparing the performance and maintenance of concrete barriers with steel barriers in the central reserve.The evidence indicates that, where average annual daily traffic exceeds 25,000 vehicles a day, there are significant benefits in using rigid concrete rather than deformable steel barriers on busy motorways and dual carriageways.'

The change in policy will now be introduced across the English motorway network wherever new barriers are being built or where large lengths of existing barrier are being replaced.

The barriers have been successfully trialed on the M25 over the past decade where they have prevented crossing-over accidents.

Around 200 such accidents occur each year in the UK, causing as many as 40 deaths. Britpave director David Jones said the evidence in favour of concrete barriers was compelling. He said: 'Despite evidence of vehicular impact on M25 concrete barriers their inherent strength and robustness meant no repair or replacement is necessary.

'Compare this with the cost and congestion caused by the ongoing and continual repair and replacement programmes necessary for less robust steel barriers.

'Like the hedge barriers of rose bushes and thorn trees used on the first motorways built in the 1960s, steel barriers are no longer adequate to meet the demands of today's traffic.'