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Motorways (Crash Barriers)

Volume 113: debated on Friday 3 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he proposes to take to ascertain whether steel motorway crash barriers have been installed correctly;(2) if he will publish the construction specification of steel motorway crash barriers relevant to their original installation;(3) if he will estimate how many miles of steel motorway crash barrier have been installed to substandard specification;(4) if he is satisfied with the standard of construction of steel motorway crash barriers.

Detailed inspection of safety fences are being made where land closures are required for major carriageway works that give access to safety fences. These inspections are in addition to those being carried out under a code of practice for routine maintenance introduced in 1985.A specification for tensioned corrugated beam safety fences, the most common type of fence used on motorways, was first issued in 1969. It has been revised several times since then. All specifications have been published and are listed as follows:

  • Specification for Road and Bridge Works—4th Edition 1969.
  • Technical Memorandum No. 119/73, Safety Fences 1973.
  • Specification for Road and Bridge Works—5th Edition 1976.
  • Specification for Road and Bridge Works—Supplement No. 1 1978.
  • Specification for Highway Works—6th Edition 1986. To be implemented in 1988.

A reliable estimate of the length of safety fences that does not meet our specification cannot be made. The inspections already referred to are designed to identify the conditions of safety fences and remedial works required. We estimate that detailed inspections this year will cover a sample of up to about 150 miles of motorway safety fences.

Research has shown that the safety fences generally perform well, and I have no reason at present to believe that they are not constructed generally to a satisfactory standard.

I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 25 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), and my subsequent letter to him of 27 March, a copy of which is in the Library.