Design of Roadside Barrier Systems Placed on Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Retaining Walls
Millions of square feet of mechanically stabilized earth retaining wall are constructed annually in the United States. When used in highway fill applications in conjunction with bridges, these MSE walls are typically constructed with a roadside barrier system supported on the edge of the wall. This barrier system generally consists of a traffic barrier or bridge rail placed on a continuous footing or structural slab. The footing is intended to reduce the influence of barrier impact loads on the retaining wall system by distributing the load over a wide area and to provide stability for the barrier against sliding or overturning. The proper design of the roadside barrier, the structural slab, and the MSE wall system requires a good understanding of relevant failure modes, how barrier impact loads are transferred into the wall system, and the magnitude and distribution of these loads. In this study, a procedure is developed that provides guidance for designing: 1. the barrier-moment slab, 2. the wall reinforcement, and 3. the wall panels. These design guidelines are developed in terms of AASHTO LRFD procedures. The research approach consisted of engineering analyses, finite element analyses, static load tests, full-scale dynamic impact tests, and a full-scale vehicle crash test. It was concluded that a 44.5 kN (10 kips) equivalent static load is appropriate for the stability design of the barrier-moment slab system. This will result in much more economical design than systems developed using the 240 kN (54 kips) load that some user agencies are using. Design loads for the wall reinforcement and wall panels are also presented.
Kim, Kang (2009). Design of Roadside Barrier Systems Placed on Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Retaining Walls. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from