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Guardrail Information

To report a location that you believe needs a guardrail or to report any other traffic related problem you may call 510-238-3466 8am-4:30pm.

To report a location with damaged guardrail or fencing you may call Street and Sidewalk maintenance at 510-615-5566 8am-4:30pm.

Guardrail Definition

A guardrail is a longitudinal barrier used to protect motorists from roadside hazards. The purpose of a guardrail is to reduce the severity of collisions by preventing a vehicle from veering off the roadway into an embankment or fixed object. Guardrails are not intended to protect private or public property. Property with high social or economic value, such as playgrounds or monuments, may be granted an exception. Semi-rigid guardrails, such as metal beam guardrails, are the typical type of guardrail installed along streets.

What is the City's Procedure for Installing Guardrails?

The Caltrans Traffic Manual, Chapter 7, Section 7.03 - Guardrail and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Roadside Design Guide have established guidelines, requirements and warrants for the installation of guardrails. These references were used to develop the City of Oakland's Guardrail operating procedures, which apply to citizen requests for guardrails citywide. The following is a general outline of the city's process:

Assess Existing Conditions

The first step is to eliminate or minimize hazardous conditions along the roadside if feasible. Improvements might include flattening embankment slopes and identifying alternative locations and or designs of fixed roadside objects. This is because the installation of guardrails could lead to a higher number of collisions due to their proximity to the traveled way.

Analyze Impact

Guardrails should be installed only if the severity of a vehicle running off an embankment or striking a fixed object is greater than the severity of striking the guardrail. As a result, guardrails are installed only at locations where there is a history of severe run-off-road collisions or a significant potential for such collisions. The criteria listed below are evaluated to determine if guardrail is warranted.

  1. Guardrail is warranted if there has been one (1) severe run-off-road collision in the last five years or three (3) severe run-off-road collisions within the last ten years. A severe collision involves major injuries and/or major property damage. OR
  2. Guardrail is warranted if a combination of the following site-specific conditions is deemed to create a significant probability of run-off-road collisions:
    1. Roadway Alignment - Presence of curves, such as first curve in a series of curves, successive curves with significant speed changes between curves, curves that are sharper than those generally used, and compound curves. Curves on sustained downhill grades are given special consideration.
    2. Roadside Recovery Area - Clear recovery zone of less than 20 feet.
    3. Fixed objects - Presence of certain types of fixed objects within the clear recovery zone. (Guardrail is not typically installed to shield fixed objects located behind curbs because of lower speeds and the presence of parked cars, poles, hydrants, etc. Individual trees, signal poles, lighting standards and utility poles are also typically not shielded because the guardrail used to provide such protection increases overall fixed object exposure.)
    4. Climatic Conditions - Frequent dense fog, icy conditions or high velocity cross winds.

If a guardrail is not warranted based on a history of severe run-off-road collisions or a significant probability for such collisions, we consider alternative improvements including signs, striping, pavement markings, and markers to highlight an unusual condition.

Placement on the List

If a specific location meets all such conditions for approval then that location is added to a master list. The master list is then sorted first based on the number of collisions that a location has, then on a first come first serve basis. Thereafter the City utilizes different federal, state and local funds to develop contracts for installing guardrails at locations on the master list.

Posted: August 31st, 2018 3:44 PM

Last Updated: January 20th, 2021 8:03 PM

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