A barrel here, a barrel there…

The in basket: I’ve written a couple of times about the February conference I attended over at Sea-Tac at which vendors of the latest in high-tech traffic control got to show off their wares.

Today I’ll mine a couple more bits if information I found interesting.

Have you even driven through a construction zone marked by mile after mile of orange barrels on the shoulder? Often, when I encounter such a stretch, I find myself wondering what one of those barrels costs?

So I asked Todd Wilson of Traffic Safety Supply Co., who had a booth at the conference. His answer: $80 each, mostly due to the reflective tape that makes then visible at night. That tape is pretty pricey, he said. I also visited an online site that said the barrels aren’t just thrown together, but must meet federal standards that keep them from penetrating a vehicle in a high speed collision.

So next time you find yourself passing dozens or hundreds of those barrels at a work zone, have a passenger count them and multiply by $80. And that doesn’t even count the cost of setting them out. Usually, they belong to the contractor chosen to do the job.

Todd gave me another figure while we talked – $16,500. That’s the price of one of the new-generation impact attenuators that are installed on the end of concrete abutments to absorb the impact of a car hitting one, he said.

That’s what his company was paid for one that replaced an older one at the start of the ramp that carries northbound traffic on Highway 3 over the Gorst business district on its way to Bremerton after a vehicle hit it at high speed last summer. Todd had been told it was a suspected suicide attempt, but I couldn’t confirm that. The driver was badly hurt but survived, he said. The impact was nearly double the 45-mph design capacity of the old attenuator, which had to be scrapped.

The one his company sold the state won’t require that, he said. It is designed to be pulled back into shape after its hit to guard occupants of the next car that crashes into it.

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