In January 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a joint agreement with the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) outlining a new requirement for highway safety hardware. The scope of the requirement includes permanent and temporary roadside barriers; longitudinal barriers, including those used on precast box culverts and three-sided structures; and bridge rails.
The agreement stated that these products, if manufactured after December 31, 2019, must be successfully tested to the 2016 edition of the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH). Devices manufactured before this date and successfully tested to National Cooperative Highway Research Project (NCHRP) Report 350 or the 2009 edition of MASH may continue to be used throughout their normal service lives.
However, the implementation date has proven challenging for many state departments of transportation. As such, some DOTs do not yet have MASH 2016-compliant barriers employed. Consequently, on November 19, 2019, FHWA issued a clarification document regarding the regulation. Most recently, FHWA posted an amended document titled, “Clarifications on Implementing the AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware, 2016” on March 24, 2020.
Of particular interest to both DOTs and precasters who manufacture these products is the implementation section, including the following excerpt:
What is included in the December 31, 2019, sunset date in the AASHTO/FHWA Joint Implementation Agreement?
The sunset date specified in the AASHTO/FHWA Joint Implementation Agreement for MASH for the use of NCHRP 350‐compliant roadside hardware devices for new permanent installations and full replacements on National Highway System (NHS) facilities occurs on December 31, 2019. However, because of the limited number of MASH 2016‐compliant devices available in several device categories, existing MASH 2016‐compliant devices may not provide the functionality needed by a state transportation agency.
After December 31, 2019, states will use MASH 2016‐compliant devices on NHS projects for new permanent installations and full replacements. However, states may specify MASH 2009‐ compliant or NCHRP 350‐compliant devices when:
a) a MASH 2016‐compliant device does not exist to address the situation; or
b) a MASH 2016‐compliant device exists but does not meet the state’s needs given project or regional conditions; or
c) the state is awaiting completion of MASH‐2016 testing for a specific device, in which case the State must document the plan for testing the device that will be used on future projects in lieu of the specified NCHRP 350 device; or
d) the device is a temporary work zone device that has been in use prior to December 31, 2019, and is still within its normal service life.
States must maintain documentation of non‐MASH‐2016‐compliant devices used and the basis for use. When sole‐sourcing MASH‐compliant devices, States must comply with Federal and State procurement requirements
As a result, some states will continue using their current NCHRP Report 350-compliant and MASH 2009-compliant precast barriers while they work diligently to meet the MASH 2016 regulation. Precasters who manufacture barriers should contact their respective DOT representative to determine their state’s MASH 2016 barrier compliance strategy and ensure that they are equipped to provide compliant barriers.
To discuss your state’s policy, or if you have questions about the MASH 2016 regulation, please contact Eric Carleton, P.E., NPCA’s director of code and standards.