October 3, 2000
Re: Bridge Railing Subcommittee
Peter Douglas, Executive Director
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Avenue, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
Tel: (415) 904-5200
Fax: (415) 904-5400
Dear Mr. Douglas:
I understand from
Steve Scholl that you have taken staff responsibility for the Bridge
Railing Subcommittee. I appreciate that this signifies the importance that
you and the Commission attach to getting the best possible scenic rail for
California. I also realize that this responsibility adds to your already
overwhelming responsibilities. I want to offer you my assistance at any
time it can useful to you.
To help the
Subcommittee understand why getting Caltrans approval of an unmodified
Wyoming Rail is so important, I have attached a sheet showing
three alternative “scenic” railings.
I urge the
Subcommittee to make the number one priority of the upcoming October
meeting to get Caltrans to provide a full justification, with analysis and
numerical calculations, for their modification of the Wyoming Rail. My
own analysis and conversations with the Wyoming Transportation Department
and Richard Powers of the Federal Highway Administration have convinced me
that there is absolutely no technical, safety rationale for modifying
either the Wyoming Rail TL-3 or TL-4 rail. Both fully meet the Report 350
crash-test standards and the AASHTO LRFD standards.
The Commission asked
Caltrans for this justification in an August 14, 2000 letter from Steve
Scholl to John Allison. As of a few days ago, it had not been received.
The calculations required to answer this request could be made by a
Caltrans engineer with the Wyoming Rail specifications in fifteen minutes
(the time it took me). There is no engineering reason why Caltrans cannot
make this justification available to you before the Subcommittee meeting.
If, as I believe,
Caltrans is unable to justify modifying the Wyoming Rail, the Subcommittee
should request Caltrans to construct two examples of railings that
incorporate the unmodified Wyoming Rail:
Wyoming Rail as a traffic barrier on the outside of a bridge. This would
be a “standard” rail for bridges without sidewalks, assuming that Caltrans
determines that rural bridges on Highway 1 do not require modifications to
bicyclist protection is required, the standard Wyoming Rail would need
light-duty rails added to the top to extend the height to 55 inches. If
the spacing between the lower rails needs to be narrowed, this should be
done using thin steel cables. The designers of the proposed bicycle rail
for the Golden Gate Bridge should be consulted.
two-rail system, incorporating the Wyoming Rail as a barrier between the
traffic and the sidewalk and a light-weight, traditional style of
pedestrian railing on the outer edge of the bridge. The outer railing
would need only to meet static load requirements for pedestrian safety.
Compared to the
all-purpose, “combination rails” shown to the Commission by Caltrans, the
two-rail system would protect pedestrians from out-of-control vehicles, be
more aesthetic, and provide greater visual transparency.
The Commission should
know that the two-rail system is required by AASHTO standards
whenever traffic speeds exceed 45 mph. In such situations, the
combination rails shown the Commission are not allowed by AASHTO.
Additionally, the Bridge Railing Subcommittee should request Caltrans to
respond to the other questions in Steve Scholl’s letter of August 14,
2000. Question 3 in that letter should first be clarified as I outlined
in an August 17, 2000 letter to Steve
Please call if you
have any questions.
Encl: 1) Vince
Taylor, Alternative Scenic Bridge
Railings for California, October
2) Vince Taylor, letter to
Steve Scholl, August 17, 2000.