Iowa is first state to use Safety Edge technology on concrete

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The Iowa Department of Transportation is using an existing paving technique in a new way to make County Road E-34 in Linn and Jones counties safer. The project was paid for with $863,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Safety Edge is a paving technology that helps prevent fatal crashes. It was invented to combat the dangers associated with returning to the road over deteriorated shoulders. Most commonly used when paving with asphalt, Iowa is the first state to use this technology on concrete roads. This application will help bring a needed safety technique one step closer to standard practice since concrete is used more widely for highway construction and repair.

“Safety is our number one priority, and we hope more states will use this low-cost low-risk technology that helps protect drivers,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The Recovery Act helped make this project a reality faster – delivering jobs and a much-needed safer roadway for Iowans in this region.”

Safety Edge is also one of five featured technologies in Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez’s Every Day Counts Initiative, which seeks to identify and help quickly deploy innovations aimed at enhancing the safety of our roadways shortening project delivery. “Incorporating Safety Edge technology into highway planning is a great example of what our Every Day Counts Initiative is trying to do,” Mendez says. “This technology is easy to use and extremely cost-effective – and, most importantly, it will save lives.”

A rural secondary road, County Road E-34 is a high-crash corridor, making it an ideal candidate for additional safety investment. Safety Edge prevents pavement edge dropoff, one major cause of roadway departure crashes. The dropoff is the vertical distance between the paved travel lane and the unpaved shoulder. By attaching a simple device to a paving machine to angle the asphalt or concrete, a safer and more durable pavement edge can be created, allowing drivers to regain control more easily after leaving the travel lane.

Iowa received $358 million of the $26.6 billion in Recovery Act highway funds available for road and bridge projects nationwide. As of July 23, all of Iowa’s funds have been obligated for 233 projects, with 147 under way and 86 completed.