The state Transportation Department has started looking at all of its guardrails to see if the ends have a manufacturing flaw that can turn them into spears.
The department says it has seen enough incidents in Missouri and in other states to make it suspend buying guardrail end caps from one of its suppliers. MODOT’s Engineering Policy Administrator Joe Jones says the department has developed a database with GPS locations of tens of thousands of guardrail ends in the state. Department workers started checking those locations this week.
The ends are supposed to absorb impact and the rail is supposed to bend and spread. But some lawsuits say guardrail ends made by a Texas company has a design flaw that doesn’t let the rail absorb the impact. At least one fatality has been attributed to that design.
Jones says the first step in dealing with the issue is to check every guardrail end in the state and identify the ones from Trinity Industries, a company the department has used for almost twenty years. Jones says the problem segments appear to have been made in 2005.