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Wire ropes are safest option


As a chartered civil engineer who has been involved with highway safety for 40 years, I was perturbed to read the letter 'why wire is a ropey option' (NCE 16 March) where long debunked claims about the performance of wire rope safety barriers are resurrected.

It is important to redress the balance as wire rope barriers are now a valid and often better substitute for conventional barrier systems.

Wire rope provides many benefits:

It does not bounce vehicles back into running lanes.

There is no evidence of rusting deterioration as evidenced by the testing of dismantled ropes installed on the M62 more than 20 years ago. A new rope barrier was replaced in the location following special representations from the motorway police.

As wire ropes are pre-tensioned, they do not extend in an accident and are therefore speedily and easily reinstated.

Assuming that socketed posts have been installed, a damaged wire rope barrier can be reinstated quicker than an open box or tensioned corrugated beam barrier.

It is accepted in the UK by both the British Motorcycle Federation and the Motorcycle Action Group that wire rope safety fences in central reservations provide them with a level of protection from crossover accidents that other barriers do not do. They are not against future installations of wire rope barrier systems.

The Brifen wire rope system is approved to prEN 1317 which means it cannot be 'banned' in any European country.

The product was awarded the RAC's annual Prince Michael of Kent Road Safety Award.

Alan Hames (M), 2 Westerdale, Brampton Park Northampton NN2 8UP

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