by guest blogger Jeff Adamson
Working on the side of the road is one of the greatest hazards our construction crews deal with. Just the other day we received an email with a story that we thought was worth telling from the project inspector on the SR 285 Senator George Sellar Bridge project in Wenatchee: "Yesterday afternoon a vehicle struck the QMB. It was a hit and run. There were two ironworkers (70’ +- off the deck) in the man lift just past the point of impact. They reported hearing a thud and seeing the vehicle regain control. The QMB probably just saved two lives. It goes to show that the QMB was a great idea and a good investment!"
What is a QMB? It stands for “Quick-change, Movable Barrier”. The SR 285 Sellar Bridge project that’s adding a new eastbound lane is one of the first projects in the state that has utilized this relatively new technology for separating traffic from the construction crews. The benefit of the QMB is that it can be put in place, and then moved (up to 18’) in a matter of minutes instead of the hours required to place/remove traditional concrete jersey barrier. In the case of the Sellar Bridge project, the majority of the work had been done during night time hours so 4 lanes would be open during the high volume traffic hours. A special vehicle put the QMB sections in place each evening and moved them to shoulder each morning until December when night work ended. Since it’s too cold for any concrete work over the winter, only some daytime iron work is continuing as weather allows. So, until spring, the QMB has been placed to keep traffic off the new lane, providing the necessary space for the work underway preparing for completion of the last piece of the project – a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge facility being added to the structure outside the bridge rail, next to the new lane. (We made room for the new lane on the existing bridge by removing the sidewalks.)
This event last Wednesday (Jan. 12) reconfirms, for us, the value of the emphasis on safety we maintain and justifies the expense for things like QMB instead of plastic traffic cones.
For more information on the Project: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR285/EastGeorgeSellerBridge/