who invented it? the jersey barrier

ah, the noble jersey barrier. who invented it? tough to say exactly, except to narrow it down to: New Jersey. yes, the much maligned “Garden State” has contributed such a thing of beauty to the world, as an immovable chunk of concrete.

i think in my research, the most interesting things were the details about design and development, moreso than finding the one brilliant source of invention.

cross sectional drawing of a jersey barrierconcrete dividing barriers were first implemented in the mid 1940s, in California. they didn’t get implemented in New Jersey until a few years later, and their size and design evolved considerably.

what we know of today as the New Jersey Barrier was designed in 1959, it comprises of a vertical section at the bottom, a 55-degree sloping section, then an 84-degree slope up the the top.

their shape is designed to redirect the momentum of an impacting car upwards (and ultimately, backwards), preventing the vehicle from flipping over the barrier, and into oncoming traffic.

the traditional New Jersey Barrier is being replaced by an “F-shape” Barrier, that doesn’t look much like a F at all. another newcomer is making inroads, the “Constant Slope Barrier” which as you can imagine, instead of a 2-stage slope, it has a constant slope.

so there we have it. the Jersey Barrier is actually named after New Jersey – where it was refined, if not invented, in the 1950s. it’s big, it’s gray, it’s ugly. and it invented a 6000lb highway barrier that is now ubiquitous across the United States.

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