Logged in as: Public User

MGS Transition Connector Problems

State MO
Description Text We have a couple of problems/requests for expert opinion related to transition section connections to concrete bridge railing.


Problem No. 1

There is a need to retrofit MGS transition section connector plate (which is same as NCHRP 350 Transition section connector plate developed as part of MwRSF Research Report No. TRP-03-69-98, “Two Approach Guardrail Transitions for Concrete Safety Shape Barriers”) to fit our earlier/older style concrete bridge rail safety shape (aka Safety Barrier Curb, SBC). The connector plate will only work with some modifications. Is our proposed connector plate modifications acceptable?

See attached:

Proposed_Bridge_Anchor_Field_Modification.pdf The problem and MoDOT’s field solution

Proposed_Revised_Bridge_Anchor_Section.pdf Proposed connector plate modification

60660B.pdf MGS transition connector plate (the standard)

60660C04.pdf Modified connector plate (proposed modification to standard)

60660C05.pdf Modified connector plate (proposed modification to standard)


Problem No. 2

There is a need to connect MGS transition section to 29” vertical concrete bridge rail without replacing concrete bridge rail end. This would require transitioning vertically from 31” down to 29”. Currently, MoDOT transitions to a double W-Beam terminal connector/transition which is to be upgraded to a MGS transition. We are asking for an acceptable transition connection.

See attached:

  • Approach Guardrail Transitions
Other Keywords none
Date March 8, 2018
Attachment MoDOT_1.jpg
Attachment MoDOT_2.jpg
Attachment Proposed_Bridge_Anchor_Field_Modification.zip
Attachment Needed_Transition_for_29_Inch_Vertical_Barrier.pdf


Dr. Faller is placing some stacked W-beam reports in a Box folder for you to reference.  The design tested at TTI under test 404211-12 has an FHWA eligibility letter, see attached.   This transition design was a modified version of a NCHRP Report 230 tested design, which was approved by FHWA in a technical memo – see link below




Date March 12, 2018




Crash test shows metric height from ground to center of top W-rail at 550mm (top of guardrail).  Our structures use 21” (533mm). I assume this is acceptable.


In general, are bridge anchor sections still acceptable when approaches are overlaid that would reduce effective height of rail?  Specifically, is this transition acceptable when approach is overlaid?


Gregory Sanders, P.E.

Date March 13, 2018


There are a few small differences between your old transition standard and the one crash tested to NCHRP Report 350 and approved by FHWA.  However, I believe the ¾” height difference would have a minimal effect on performance. Thus, you could make the argument that your existing transitions are NCHRP Report 350 TL-3 compliant.


During our conference call this week, you expressed that you will be attaching MGS to the upstream ends of these existing transitions.  The bridge railings and parapets in which the transitions are attached to are only 29” tall, so you will not be able to raise the height of the transition rails to match up with MGS.  Note, TTI recent conducted a study in which the height of the upper W-beam rail was increased to 31”, but the system failed to satisfy MASH criteria during crash testing.  Thus, you will need a height transition between 31” MGS and the 27” transition, and your transition section will not be MASH crashworthy.


In order to create a MASH crashworthy transition, you will need to remove/replace the ends of the concrete barrier to match a MASH tested system.  This retrofit would be costly.  You had stated that you have not observed safety issues with the existing transitions, so upgrading the transitions  would have limited benefits as the existing system is NCHRP 350 crashworthy. As such, I recommend leaving the transitions in place (as part of the bridge rail) when the adjacent guardrail is replaced with MGS.


To transition between the existing transitions and MGS, you will need a height transition – from 27” to 31”, respectively.  MwRSF has been recommending that such height transitions be done gradually over a distance of 50-ft.  Additionally, the height transition should start upstream of the stacked w-beam transition, which would include rub rail and reduced post spacing. So, the height transition should begin at the 9th post upstream of the bridge rail.


I do not think these transitions would remain crashworthy if an overlay raised the height of the roadway 2-3 inches.  These transitions are already short (at 27”), and further reducing this height could have major effects on the performance of the system.  At this time, it is not known if a 31” tall guardrail transition would maintain its crashworthiness if the height was reduced.  I have not found any thrie-beam transitions to pass TL-3 criteria (either NCHRP 350 or MASH) with a height less than 31”.  Most of the shorter height transitions resulted in rollovers.  If an overlay is necessary, you may want to grind down the pavement prior to the overlay so that the roadway height remains the same. 


For future installations, MwRSF and NDOT are currently finishing a project to develop a 34” tall guardrail transition system – which would make it crashworthy as installed and after a 3” overlay is added.  The system has been successfully crash tested to MASH TL-3. The report is not yet completed, but I can supply you with further details if you are interested.

Date March 15, 2018

Contact Us:
130 Whittier Research Center
2200 Vine Street
Lincoln, NE 68583-0853
(402) 472-0965
Email: mwrsf@unl.edu
The information contained on the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) website is subject to change without prior notice. The University of Nebraska and the MwRSF is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use or misuse of or reliance upon any such content, goods, or services available on this site.