VDOT seeks contractors to replace ET-Plus guardrails

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Transportation is looking for contractors to inventory and replace a specific type of guardrail that critics say has a potentially dangerous design flaw.

VDOT spokesperson Marshall Herman told 10 On Your Side the department has put out nine advertisements for contract bids for the work.

However, the work is contingent upon three things:

  • the outcome of a series of crash tests being done on the ET-Plus guardrails
  • in-service reviews from VDOT’s records of incidents involving the ET-Plus guardrails
  • any additional information VDOT could receive on the ET-Plus guardrails in the future

VDOT previously told WAVY.com the department kept no record of where the ET-Plus guardrails had been installed along Virginia highways. Then the department decided on a method to find and remove them, and now it is looking for contractors to do the work.

This announcement comes just hours after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring made public a lawsuit the Commonwealth filed against Trinity Industries, Inc., the Texas company that manufactured the ET-Plus guardrail. Herring claims the company sold Virginia thousands of the guardrails to Virginia with a design change that wasn’t approved by safety regulators and could pose a threat to drivers.

Document: Deposition of Dean Sicking, inventor of the design

In a response to the lawsuit, Trinity Highway spokesman released a statement about the design change, which are called ET Plus Head Measurements:

  • The heads selected for testing were taken from California Transportation Department existing inventory. Trinity did not select the heads. The Federal Highway Administration approved those heads for use in
    testing. None were rejected. They were street ready for installation.
  • They were measured at CalTrans by FHWA technical staff. They were delivered directly from the CalTrans facility to the Southwest Research Institute with no modifications. There was a chain of custody in place.
  • They were measured again by SwRI and the measurements confirmed at SwRI by the FHWA.
  • Those head measurements will be released with the test data when testing is complete.
  • Accurately measuring an ET Plus® System head requires technical knowledge and expertise.


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