Does Your Road Need Guardrails? Take a Lesson from These 3 Dangerous Roads

Without warning, a car veers off the road. Unfortunately, the driver sustains a serious injury and totals the car.

As emergency vehicles arrive on scene, they must determine the accident’s cause. Was the driver distracted or sleepy? Was the road wet after a storm? Perhaps the driver overcorrected and drove off the edge because of a missing guardrail.

Although accidents have many causes, most highway engineers and civic planners agree that safety precautions like guardrails curtail serious accidents and keep drivers safe on busy roads.

As you’ve read earlier in our blog, roads benefit from guardrails and regular guardrail repair. But if you still aren’t convinced, take a look at some of America’s most dangerous roads. Then, judge for yourself.

1. Interstate 15, Las Vegas to Los Angeles

It’s easy to argue that this highway is one of the busiest stretches of interstate roads in the western US, given the fact that Las Vegas and Los Angeles are both big-draw tourist destinations.

Although in most places the road lies flat and relatively straight, I-15 still claims too many fatalities each year. In fact, some drivers may be lulled into complacency by the relatively easy driving. The American Auto Association claims that too many drivers are distracted at the wheel. Others drink and drive or neglect their seatbelts.

Even though drivers are largely to blame for these accidents, too few guardrails may also contribute. If a sleepy truck driver crosses the median, a guardrail may be the only thing stopping the truck from a head-on collision on the opposite side of the freeway. On the other hand, a well-designed guardrail can keep a drifting truck or other vehicle in its own lane and startle the driver awake.

Since 2005, infrastructure updates have helped I-15 improve its safety record, though many areas still contain no guardrails.

2. Interstate 95, Florida

Of course, the Southeast is not immune from dangerous highways, either. Florida’s I-95 has the dubious honor of a number-one placement on the list of most dangerous roads (as compiled by the Daily Beast).

Between 2004 and 2008, 662 fatalities occurred on a 382-mile stretch of freeway, at a rate of nearly two fatal accidents per mile. This record is especially sobering when one considers that this interstate features guardrails along wide stretches of roadways.

Most officials blame the high rate of accidents on speed and inattention. Distracted drivers who text and multitask also cause multiple accidents.

At the same time, other officials speculate that the accident rate would be even higher without guardrails. Civic designers and guardrail maintenance personnel work diligently to repair aging, damaged, or out-of-place guardrails both before and after accidents along I-95.

3. US Highway 550 (The Million Dollar Highway), Silverton to Ouray, CO

Although local residents in both Ouray and Silverton, Colorado contend that Highway 550 isn’t as dangerous as its reputation proclaims, most drivers would beg to differ. Why else would USA Today proclaim the road as one of the world’s 12 most dangerous?

Northbound travelers from Ouray to Silverton may feel secure even without guardrails-as the road has none.

True, those who travel the road frequently are accustomed to the narrow, high-altitude passes, but the average tourist may understandably hold his or her breath. After all, the southbound lane on this 11,000-foot pass hovers on the edge of a deep precipice. At any point, a car could plunge over the side, and some cars have done so.

For those who follow the 25-mph speed limit, the road is safe enough in summer months; however, during the heaviest snows, the road has to close occasionally or even seasonally when conditions are too dangerous. Local snow plowers have no room to plow icy, snow-packed roads in the winter; hence, the lack of guardrails.

While a road without guardrails may indeed cause more caution while driving, a better solution might be to invest in strong guardrails and snowplows with narrower blade spans.

The Need for Infrastructure Updates

When dangerous roadways lead to fatal accidents, structural engineers jump into action; however, many older structures (including older guardrails) are part of the safety problem.

To address safety concerns, the Federal Highway Administration has recommended additional scrutiny of aging guardrails. The FHA also recommends rigorous testing for newer guardrails, to ensure they protect, not endanger, drivers.

Of course, guardrail manufacturers can produce quality products, only to face poor installation techniques. Experienced teams often repair faulty guardrails to correct an installation issue, not just maintain the guardrails (even though regular maintenance is critical).

As highway officials study crashes on America’s roadways, they learn more about which guardrails protect drivers best during impact. Some guardrails perform better than others in low-angle crashes (seen in common road accidents). Older guardrails required different crash standards, so repair personnel have to replace aging structures over time.

 

To learn more about street sweeping, roadway maintenance, and guardrail repair, regularly check out our helpful blog posts!

Why Roads Have Curbing-And How It Contributes to City Stormwater Systems

Many Florida roads have curbs, which makes curbs easy to ignore and forget. But curbs are commonplace for a reason: they play a big role in controlling stormwater runoff and keeping pollutants out of the water supply. Read the information below to gain a new appreciation for curbs and their contributions to stormwater systems.

History of Curbs

The purpose of curbs becomes clearer in light of their origins and history. Developed cities had roads before they had curbs. Those roads were more permeable than today’s pavement, so rainwater and other runoff could soak into the soil below rather than accumulate on hard surfaces and cause floods. The soil also filtered out most pollutants before they reached general water supplies.

During the Industrial Revolution many people moved to cities, a situation that led to more waste and more pollution. Unfortunately, people often disposed of those contaminants directly into the streets. The waste built up, polluted the water supply, and led to public health problems.

Eventually, engineers discovered that adding curbs to roadways was one way to control this problem. Hard curbs kept dirty water from entering clean areas, like the sidewalks above or the water supply below. [Read more…]

Clean It Up! How These 6 Cities Deal with Dirt and Trash

No city is immune to dirt and debris. Just ask a municipal street sweeper.

When people move around town, they tend to leave clutter in their wake. A storm blows through the area and leaves sediment behind. Careless travelers throw an empty plastic bottle out the window. Pedestrians track through dust, leaves, and water, leaving dirt and debris on city streets.

Through it all, municipal workers manage to tidy those streets and leave the city ready for action the following day.

Of course, any city deals with dirt. However, some cities clean up well, while others struggle. Consider the following examples:

1. New Orleans, LA

As if Hurricane Katrina didn’t wreak enough havoc on The Big Easy, the city endures another big mess each year after festivals and celebrations. These two challenges make New Orleans an easy top pick for dirtiest city in the U.S., as chosen by the readers of Travel and Leisure magazine in 2015.

Of course, New Orleans suffers from a decided disadvantage. Few municipalities have to deal with long-term hurricane cleanup along with everything else. Katrina packed a punch to the city that even regular street sweeping can’t fix.

The next challenge is Mardi Gras, a top attraction for American and worldwide tourists. Street cleaners use Herculean efforts to clean up the mess left behind after each annual Fat Tuesday. That’s in addition to their regular sweeping routes every other day of the year.

2. Madrid, Spain

Sometimes, cities get dirty and stay that way for weeks. This scenario happened to Madrid, Spain after a city-wide strike of street cleaners in November 2013.

The strike began after several large service companies cut over a thousand jobs, reducing the workforce by 18 percent. Remaining workers faced salary cuts as well. During the strike, street cleaners left trash and recycling bins unemptied. Falling leaves clogged running water in streets and drains. Broken bottles and trash lay on the streets.

After the strike, workers resumed their cleaning duties. However, this example shows how quickly a little debris can become a health and economic disaster without prompt intervention.

3. Essen, Germany

Contrast Madrid’s dilemma to another European city. Not even budget cuts are enough to stop the Germans from cleaning their streets and public areas. Just ask city workers in Essen, Germany.

In October 2014, Essen social workers monitored a small ‘pick-up’ team of drug addicts and alcoholics during half-day street-cleaning shifts. Following a typical four-hour shift, each participant received a small hourly wage, a hot meal, and beverages.

By means of this project, social workers hoped to instill a new purpose and routine in each addict. The clean streets were just a bonus.

4. Beijing, China

Street sweepers play an important role in any metropolitan area-particularly large cities that contain millions of residents. Beijing, China provides a telling example.

Like other large cities, Beijing employs multiple street cleaning methods. Some cleaning teams use motorized cleaning trucks; others use hand-push sweepers. Thanks to China’s worldwide manufacturing prowess, city workers can choose the right sweeping model for any application.

Beijing’s most famous street sweeper, Yu Youzhen, is never late for her street sweeping job. She doesn’t believe in taking time off either-despite the fact that she’s also a millionaire. The reason? She wants to provide a hard-working example to her children. Meanwhile, she helps clear away city debris.

In smaller Chinese cities, street sweepers make do with old-fashioned brooms, sometimes roped together in a circle and attached to a truck. This may not be the most effective method, but it nonetheless indicates a desire to keep cities clean.

5. Mumbai (Bombay), India

China is not the only populous nation that attempts to clean its many crowded streets. Throughout India, street sweepers face similar crowds and similar cleaning problems.

For example, because drinking water is scarce throughout India, street sweepers must ensure that they don’t waste water reserves. Dust is also a constant problem in India, so sweepers have to spray with water before they vacuum. Some manufacturers try to solve the problem with regenerative-water sweeping machines.

Poorer areas still rely on human labor and push brooms. Machines are few and far between in the country. However, Mumbai manufacturers strive to create effective sweeping options for large cities. Despite those efforts, nearly 50 percent of India’s streets stay dirty each month.

6. Orlando, FL

During a typical year in Orlando, street sweepers must clean and maintain over 55,000 collective miles of city roadways. That’s a lot of sweeping!

Orlando is also typical of many other American cities that dedicate resources to regular street cleaning. Trained operators keep the city clean so traffic can run more smoothly, businesses can present a professional image, and residents can stay safe.

Orlando natives are accustomed to seeing street sweepers after parades and concerts. Area contractors rely on sweepers to prevent construction runoff. And everyone benefits from a clean city.

 

As you can see, every city faces different challenges when it comes to street cleaning. The next time you’re tempted to take your clean city for granted, remember your local street sweepers. Your surroundings might look completely different without their dedicated service!

10 Ways to Make Your Business Look Professional During a Renovation

You have decided that your office could use a transformation. Its space, layout, colors, and natural lighting do not suit your needs or your employee’s preferences at all, and you want to create a happier, more productive, and more attractive workspace.

However, you can’t afford to close, either for your revenue’s sake or your employees’ sake. Your business will have to stay open throughout the renovation. But you worry that your customers, partners, and suppliers will feel disenchanted when they see the huge mess and the construction materials. You also worry that the machinery and noise will scare people off.

So how do you keep your business’s aesthetic professional and appealing throughout the renovation process?

Below, we’ve given you a few tips to you can maintain your business’s image.

1. Schedule a Daily Waste Hauling Service

Remodels create a lot of waste-and some of them even create dangerous waste, like sawdust, splinters, nails, broken glass, and jagged metal pieces. You do not want to risk a customer injury by keeping these objects on your property. Not only will an injury make you lose that customer and everyone he or she knows, but it could pull you into a lawsuit as well.

Keep yourself legally safe and make your business look more attractive by scheduling a waste hauling service. This service will remove any excess materials daily and ensure that your office’s interior and exterior don’t contain too much clutter.

2. Restructure Your Interior Décor Around the Renovation

As you renovate, your decorations will not look quite as balanced as they did before. So, when customers visit you, they may feel uncomfortable about how things look, even if they can’t say why. Have someone with an eye for design reposition your décor periodically as the remodel progresses.

3. Renovate Nonessential Areas First

Whether you have a sales floor, a dining area, conference rooms, or other essential spaces for interacting with clients, you should save these areas until last-unless you can renovate them in the space of a weekend. Otherwise you should start with bathrooms and storage rooms-but try to do these projects over a weekend as well so your employees don’t have to go without a restroom.

4. Remove All Clutter from the Premises

Your office will already look more cluttered than usual thanks to all the debris from your building’s transformation. So, if you have other furniture or unnecessary decorative items cluttering the space, remove them and put them in storage until you complete the remodel.

Or, if you don’t know what counts as clutter and what doesn’t, decide if you’ll need any items in the immediate future, and remove them if you don’t.

5. Make Sure Customers and Other Visitors Have a Safe Path

You may have to use back and side doors to accomplish this task. You may also have to construct protective scaffolding to keep objects from falling on your customers when they enter your business. Whatever you have to construct for your customers, do it, even if you decided to give your customers hard hats.

However, when you can’t create a safe path for your visitors or employees, you may have to close your company, at least for a few hours.

6. Clean the Renovated Walkways and Other Areas Regularly

As you’ve read above, debris accumulates quickly during a remodel. Have one of your staff members sweep and dust the hallways and rooms near the renovation at least once an hour. Mop the area at least once every day to make sure your customers see a freshly cleaned area when they enter your business.

7. Put Barriers Between Work Areas and Renovation Areas

You do not want someone’s child or curious spouse wandering into construction zones on your premises. These people could injure themselves, and then you might have a lawsuit on your hands. So use a tarp, caution cones, or even a makeshift plastic wall to keep visitors away from the heavy-duty work.

8. Post Warning Signs

Warning signs show that your business cares about customer safety. These signs also mitigate your liability should an accident occur. Signs indicate that you tried to warn visitors not to approach the renovation.

9. Use Natural, Fresh Scents for a More Pleasant Atmosphere

During the remodel, the dust and debris will make your office smell musty. So turn your air purifiers on full blast and use candles and air fresheners to spread light, natural, scents around the sales floor or reception area. Don’t make the scent too strong, or your customers could get headaches and feel agitated.

10. Offer Customers Free Earplugs

As previously mentioned, renovations make a lot of noise, and you don’t want to alienate clientele because of the sound. Offer free earplugs to shoppers and visitors when necessary, and advise your customers to wear the earplugs until you take them to a more soundproof location.

 

You don’t have to close your business during an office transformation if you take the proper steps. Rent a dumpster and use the tips above to keep your building neat and preserve its charming appearance.

What You Need to Know About Vegetation and Roadways

You already do a lot to keep roadways clean and safe in your municipality. You hire street sweepers. You schedule regular repairs. However, despite your efforts, your roads still don’t look as attractive as you would like. The vegetation around them has grown out of control. In some cases, the plants have invaded the asphalt.

You want to give your city the most pristine appearance possible. After all, you can’t attract new residents or new businesses otherwise.

To that end, you need to find some way to control vegetation before it turns a minor cosmetic issue into a serious safety hazard. Below, we’ll tell you more about vegetation management, including why it matters and how it works.

The Importance of Vegetation Management

Vegetation doesn’t usually pose a threat to your roads. In fact, it can often give them a more charming appearance because it adds a soft, green backdrop for the hard asphalt. However, if you do not manage the plants around your streets, the grasses, weeds, and blooms can cause major problems.

In particular, wild grasses can germinate and grow in even the tiniest pavement cracks. As those grasses become larger, their roots will force the cracks to widen and deepen. The road’s structure will eventually collapse from this pressure, and you’ll have expensive asphalt repairs on your hands.

Additionally, if roots from trees, bushes, or other large plants extend underneath the pavement, their growth could make the roadside buckle. Cracks and protruding pieces create unsafe driving conditions for motorists.

So, if you want to keep your roads safe, you have to keep the vegetation under control.

Reasons Not to Clear All Plants

Vegetation management doesn’t mean that you use herbicide on every plant that comes near your pavement. Instead, trim and care for the plants because they benefit your roads in the following ways:

  1. They prevent erosion. If your city experiences high winds, heavy rainfall, or flooding, you need vegetation around your roads to keep the soil anchored. Plant roots keep the dirt from washing away, so your roads will still have a solid surface to support them.

Additionally, as soil erodes, it often blows into the air or onto the road and creates a hazard. A high windstorm may pick up so much soil that it limits drivers’ visibility. Or the dust may simply cover the road and fly into the air as tires roll over it. The soil can also create mudslides that bog down vehicles or cause accidents.

Luckily, vegetation prevents the soil from causing these issues.

  1. They give drivers something interesting to look at. Truckers and commuters spend a lot of time looking at dark pavement. They need something interesting to look at that refreshes their eyes and helps them feel alert. Bare dirt won’t give them the needed visual contrast that a little bit of greenery will.
  2. They support local wildlife. Sometimes roadside vegetation represents the last vestiges of a region’s native plant life. Other vegetation provides a valuable habitat for native species. Preserve these plants and don’t clear all plant life away.

Ways to Manage Vegetation Responsibly

  1. To keep the proper balance between too much roadside vegetation and too little, use the following strategies.

Cut away foliage that obscures signs and sight lines. Drivers need to see stop signs and barriers. They also need the ability to see around corners so they don’t get in accidents. Clear foliage away from these areas once or twice a year.

  1. Grade the shoulder so plants don’t create ditch in the road. When vegetation has a dense population next to your streets, it can often create a higher shoulder that interferes with pavement drainage. Your asphalt may flood or erode, and either problem makes the road unsafe.

Grade the soil and the plant life on either side of the road to restore drainage.

  1. Remove trees that grow too close to the road. Many fatalities happen every year because drivers lose control of their cars and hit thick trees. Sturdy, old trees should stand well away from the roadside.

If trees near your roads have trunks more than four inches thick, relocate them or chop them down. If you decide to chop them, don’t forget to grind the stump until it no longer poses a tripping or collision hazard.

  1. Mow grasses and weeds so they don’t germinate or grow too tall. Not only will this strategy keep the vegetation under control, but it will make your roads look more manicured and attractive as well.

Mow the area at least twice a month, but do it more often if the plants grow out of control more often.

  1. Use herbicides only when the plants grow in the road, not near it. Only use herbicides when absolutely necessary-you don’t want to introduce more chemicals into the environment, especially if the vegetation includes native plant life. So, unless the plants grow directly into your pavement, put the weed killer away.

 

If vegetation management seems like a lot of work, don’t worry-you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to perform the tasks above.

Instead, hire a roadside maintenance or street sweeping company to do these things for you. You’ll get the gorgeous streets your city deserve, and you can turn your attention to more pressing duties.