The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 February 2004

Stay on your side

The ubiquitous Jersey barrier does a good job of preventing crossover accidents — it's pretty darn difficult to get into the opposite set of lanes — but it's expensive to install and not exactly lovely to look at.

Enter the Brits, with a system called the Brifen Wire Rope Safety Fence, an unobtrusive four-cable guardrail system developed in the late 80s that's designed to be inexpensive to install and maintain: a Brifen installation costs roughly $200,000 per mile, less than half the price of concrete, and a post or cable damaged by impact can usually be replaced by a single worker with no heavy equipment.

The Brifen debuted in the US on a short (0.2 mile) stretch of the Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City in 2000, extended to the entire seven miles the following year. The Parkway, which runs from I-44 north to the Kilpatrick Turnpike, saw six fatalities due to crossover accidents in the three years prior to the installation of the Brifen; there have been none since. Encouraged, Brifen set up a US manufacturing facility on Oklahoma City's south side, and the system has been installed on highways in Colorado and Ohio.

The Oklahoma Gazette is reporting that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has ordered the Brifen for 6.3 miles of I-35 through Norman. Construction will be mostly at night and on Sunday morning, and will be finished, says ODOT, by May.

Posted at 2:17 PM to City Scene

Ugh, the Jersey barrier is terrible. A few of my worst driving experiences have been on Route 1, and I've only been at school up there for 2 years.

Posted by: Skip Perry at 11:57 AM on 23 February 2004