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Title:
FLUID FILLED BARRIER WITH EXTERIOR REINFORCEMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/036381
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A barrier system includes at least a pair of adjacent barriers each having opposite exterior sides and opposite end portions, with adjacent end portions of the adjacent barriers being coupled at a connection joint. At least a pair of coupler assemblies is connected to the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers, each positioned at an intermediate location between the end portions of the respective barrier. A unitary deflector member extends continuously between the pair of coupler assemblies across the connection joint and has opposite ends secured to the coupler assemblies. In another aspect, adjacent barriers are connected with an asymmetric exterior reinforcement structure. The deflector member may be provided with a unique hole pattern to accommodate various length and assembly variations. Methods of assembly and operation are also provided.

Inventors:
LATURNER, John, F. (2340 Gunn Road, Carmichael, CA, 95608, US)
HAYES, Donald, P., Jr. (6601 Blue Oaks Boulevard, Apt 5707Rocklin, CA, 95765, US)
WILKINSON, Douglas, E. (516 Washoe Court, Roseville, CA, 95747, US)
BUEHLER, Michael, J. (1121 Cresthaven Drive, Roseville, CA, 95678, US)
LEONHARDT, Patrick, A. (3779 Hillside Drive, Rocklin, CA, 95677, US)
Application Number:
US2012/051857
Publication Date:
March 14, 2013
Filing Date:
August 22, 2012
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ENERGY ABSORPTION SYSTEMS, INC. (2525 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, TX, 75207, US)
LATURNER, John, F. (2340 Gunn Road, Carmichael, CA, 95608, US)
HAYES, Donald, P., Jr. (6601 Blue Oaks Boulevard, Apt 5707Rocklin, CA, 95765, US)
WILKINSON, Douglas, E. (516 Washoe Court, Roseville, CA, 95747, US)
BUEHLER, Michael, J. (1121 Cresthaven Drive, Roseville, CA, 95678, US)
LEONHARDT, Patrick, A. (3779 Hillside Drive, Rocklin, CA, 95677, US)
International Classes:
E01F15/08
Domestic Patent References:
WO2001011146A1
Foreign References:
US6767158B1
US7303353B2
US4946138A
US5531540A
US20030081998A1
US6837647B2
US6863468B2
US6474904B1
US5860762A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STOVER, Andrew, D. (Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, P.O.Box 10087Chicago, IL, 60610, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A barrier system comprising:

at least a pair of adjacent barriers each having opposite exterior sides and opposite end portions, with adjacent end portions of the adjacent barriers being coupled at a connection joint;

at least a pair of coupler assemblies, each of the coupler assemblies connected to one of the exterior sides of one of the adjacent barriers at an intermediate location between the end portions of the respective barrier; and

a unitary deflector member extending continuously between the pair of coupler assemblies across the connection joint and having opposite ends secured to the coupler assemblies.

2. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein each of the coupler assemblies is connected to the exterior side of the respective barrier at a proximate midpoint between the end portions of the barrier.

3. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the at least a pair of adjacent barriers comprises at least three adjacent barriers arranged end to end and coupled at a pair of connection joints, and wherein the at least a pair of coupler assemblies comprises at least three coupler assemblies connected to respective ones of the barriers, and comprising a pair of the deflector members arranged end to end across the pair of connection joints and coupled to a respective pair of coupler assemblies. 4. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the deflector member comprises a pair of vertically spaced deflector members.

5. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the coupler assemblies and deflector member are arranged on a first, impact side of the barriers, and further comprising an auxiliary deflector member arranged on a second, non-impact side of the barriers, wherein the auxiliary deflector member has a different

configuration than the deflector member.

6. The barrier system of claim 5 wherein the deflector member comprises a pair of deflector members and wherein the auxiliary deflector member comprises a single deflector member.

7. The barrier system of claim 5 wherein the deflector member is a tube and wherein the auxiliary deflector member is a strap.

8. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the deflector member has a plurality of holes arranged circumferentially around at least one end thereof, wherein adjacent holes are angularly spaced about a central axis and longitudinally spaced along the central axis.

9. The barrier system of claim 8 wherein the holes are angularly spaced at 45 degree increments.

10. The barrier system of claim 8 wherein the holes are angularly spaced at 60 degree increments.

1 1. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein each of the barriers comprises a through-port extending between opposite sides thereof, and further comprising an anchor positioned on the exterior side of each barrier opposite the coupler assembly, and a connector coupled between the coupler assembly and the anchor.

12. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the deflector member comprises a tube, and wherein the coupler assembly comprises a receiver tube shaped to mate with the deflector member tube, with the receiver tube and deflector member tubes overlapping respectively.

13. The barrier system of claim 1 wherein the barriers are filled with a fluid.

14. A barrier system comprising:

at least a pair of adjacent barriers each having opposite exterior sides and opposite end portions, with adjacent end portions of the adjacent barriers being coupled at a connection joint;

a primary deflector assembly disposed along one of the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers on an impact side of the barrier and comprising at least one primary deflector member; and

an auxiliary deflector assembly disposed along an opposite one of the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers and comprising at least one auxiliary deflector member, wherein the primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies are connected, and wherein the primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies have different configurations.

15. The barrier system of claim 14 wherein the primary and auxiliary deflector members have different bending strengths. 16. The barrier system of claim 14 wherein primary deflector assembly comprises N primary deflector members and wherein the auxiliary deflector assembly comprises M auxiliary deflector members, wherein N>M.

17. The barrier system of claim 16 wherein the primary and auxiliary deflector members have the same configuration.

18. The barrier system of claim 14 wherein the primary deflector member comprises a tube and wherein the auxiliary deflector member comprises a strap.

19. The barrier system of claim 14 wherein the primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies are connected through the barrier with a connector.

20. The barrier system of claim 14 wherein the barriers are filled with a fluid.

21. An exterior reinforcement structure for use on a barrier system having a plurality of barriers arranged end-to-end, the reinforcement structure comprising:

at least a pair of laterally spaced coupler assemblies; a connector extending laterally between and connecting the coupler assemblies, the connector shaped and adapted to extend through a port formed between the sides of one of the barriers; and

at least a pair of longitudinally extending deflector members coupled to opposite ends of each of the coupler assemblies.

22. The reinforcement structure of claim 21 wherein the pair of deflector members coupled to one of the coupler assemblies has a different configuration than the pair of deflector members coupled to the other of the coupler assemblies.

23. The reinforcement structure of claim 21 wherein the deflector members coupled to one of the coupler assemblies are tubes. 24. The reinforcement structure of claim 23 wherein the deflector members comprise two pairs of deflector members coupled to the one coupler assembly.

25. An exterior reinforcement structure for use on a barrier system having a plurality of barriers arranged end-to-end, the reinforcement structure comprising: a coupler assembly having at least one fastener opening; and an elongated deflector tube having an end portion, wherein the end portion comprises a plurality of pairs of fastener openings angularly spaced around the axis of the deflector tube, wherein adjacent pairs of angularly spaced fastener openings are shifted relative to each other along a length of the deflector tube, wherein at least one of the fastener openings in the deflector tube is aligned with the at least one fastener opening in the coupler assembly.

26. The reinforcement structure of claim 25 wherein the plurality of pairs of fastener openings are angularly spaced at 45 degree increments.

27. The reinforcement structure of claim 25 wherein the plurality of pairs of fastener openings are angularly spaced at 60 degree increments. 28. The reinforcement structure of claim 25 wherein the deflector tube has an opposite end portion with a single circumferential array of fastener openings angularly spaced around the axis of the deflector tube.

Description:
FLUID FILLED BARRIER WITH EXTERIOR REINFORCEMENT

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/532,189, filed September 8, 201 1 , the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to a fluid filled barrier, and in particular, to a fluid filled barrier having an exterior reinforcement and methods for the use and assembly thereof.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Water filled barriers, such as the barriers disclosed in U.S. 5,425,594 to Krage, are commonly used on roadways as crashworthy protection devices.

Although these barriers may be used to separate traffic, and in some instances may function as crashworthy end terminals that protect the ends of barriers, they typically are used as temporary barriers to protect workers in roadway work zones. Water filled barriers are well suited as temporary barriers since they are lightweight and easy to move when empty, making it easy to install them quickly, without forklifts, cranes, or other heavy equipment.

[0004] In a typical work zone installation, the water filled barriers are offloaded from a transport truck, placed end to end and pinned in place.

Typically, the joint between the barriers is provided with a small amount of compliance, allowing the barriers to conform to curves in the roadway, or as required to conform to the shape of the work zone. Once the barriers have been located and pinned together, they are filled with water to provide the barrier with the necessary mass to withstand vehicle intrusions.

[0005] Crash testing is used to qualify the performance of water filled barriers for use as protection devices. Typically, a crash test standard, such as NCHRP (National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report) 350, or MASH

(Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C., 2009) is used to determine the speeds and angles of the crash test vehicles. These test standards also contain pass/fail criteria, and many governmental agencies allow the use of water filled barriers based on successfully passing crash tests called out by these standards.

[0006] The test standards also allow vehicles to be tested at various speeds, depending upon the anticipated use of the products being tested. For instance, a water filled barrier may be used in low speed applications, such as a parking garage, where the impact is likely to be less than 50 kph (31 mph). Under the NCHRP 350 test standard, this would correspond to Test Level 1 , or TL-1.

Likewise, a water filled barrier may be used in a work zone inside the city limits, where posted speeds are closer to 70 kph (48 mph). Under the NCHRP 350 test standard, this would correspond to Test Level 2, or TL-2.

[0007] An important measurement that is taken during the crash testing of water filled barriers is the maximum lateral deflection. This value provides the users with a guideline as to how much room must be left behind the barrier in case of an impact into the barrier. For example, the Triton ® Water filled Barrier, manufactured, marketed, and sold by Energy Absorption Systems, a Trinity Industries Company, has a deflection of 3.8 m (12.8 ft.) under NCHRP 350 testing.

[0008] Although certain lateral deflections may be acceptable for many applications, there may be some work zones where lower values of deflection are desired. To address this need, some water filled barriers have been outfitted with an exterior steel frame, as shown for example in U.S. 5,531 ,540 to Wasserstrom. Although the Wasserstrom barrier succeeds in reducing barrier deflection, the device is cumbersome and any variation in the length of the barriers is taken up by slots in the connection members. These slots tend to increase the deflection of the barriers during an impact. Moreover, the connection between the longitudinal frame elements is made at the junction between barriers, which may be more susceptible to deflection/rotation during an impact. Accordingly, the need remains for an improved system for providing supplemental reinforcement for water filled barriers. SUMMARY

[0009] In one aspect, a barrier system includes at least a pair of adjacent barriers each having opposite exterior sides and opposite end portions, with adjacent end portions of the adjacent barriers being coupled at a connection joint. At least a pair of coupler assemblies is connected to the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers, each positioned at an intermediate location between the end portions of the respective barrier. A unitary deflector member extends continuously between the pair of coupler assemblies across the connection joint and has opposite ends secured to the coupler assemblies.

[0010] In another aspect, a barrier system includes at least a pair of adjacent barriers each having opposite exterior sides and opposite end portions, with adjacent end portions of the adjacent barriers being coupled at a connection joint. A primary deflector assembly is disposed along one of the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers on an impact side of the barrier and includes at least one primary deflector member. An auxiliary deflector assembly is disposed along an opposite one of the exterior sides of the adjacent barriers and includes at least one auxiliary deflector member. The primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies are connected. The primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies have different configurations. For example and without limitations, in different embodiments, the primary and auxiliary deflector assemblies may be configured with a different number of deflector members or with differently shaped deflector members, or combinations thereof.

[0011] In another aspect, an exterior reinforcement structure includes a coupler assembly having at least one fastener opening and an elongated deflector tube having an end portion. The end portion includes a plurality of pairs of fastener openings angularly spaced around the axis of the deflector tube. Adjacent pairs of fastener openings are shifted relative to each other along a length of the deflector tube. At least one of the fastener openings in the deflector tube are aligned with the at least one fastener opening in the coupler assembly.

[0012] In another aspect, an exterior reinforcement structure includes at least a pair of laterally spaced coupler assemblies and a connector extending laterally between and connecting the coupler assemblies. The connector is adapted to extend through a port formed between the sides of one of the barriers. At least a pair of longitudinally extending deflector members is coupled to opposite ends of each of the coupler assemblies.

[0013] In other aspects, methods of assembling and operating a barrier system are also provided.

[0014] The various embodiments and aspects provide significant advantages over other barrier systems. For example and without limitation, the asymmetric configuration of the system, with different deflector assembly configurations, allows the user to assemble the system more quickly with less costs, and without substantially affecting performance. In this way, the operator can configure the system for one-way or two-way traffic, and/or tune the system for different deflection characteristics.

[0015] In addition, the barrier system, with the deflector member(s) bridging the connection joint, provides for a rigid system that is not susceptible to deflection due to rotation at the connection joints between barriers. At the same time, the interface between the deflector members and the barriers via the coupling assembly provides for some degree of tolerance due to the unique hole pattern provided in the deflector members.

[0016] The foregoing paragraphs have been provided by way of general introduction, and are not intended to limit the scope of the following claims. The presently preferred embodiments, together with further advantages, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIGURE 1 is a plan view of a vehicle about to impact a barrier system.

[0018] FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a barrier system.

[0019] FIGURE 3 is an enlarged, partial view of a deflector assembly. [0020] FIGURE 4 is an exploded perspective view of a barrier with a pair of coupler assemblies and a connector.

[0021] FIGURE 5 is a side view of one embodiment of a barrier with a coupler assembly connected thereto.

[0022] FIGURE 6 is a cross-sectional view of the barrier shown in Figure 5 taken along line 6-6.

[0023] FIGURE 7 is an exploded view of a pair of barriers and a pair of deflector assemblies.

[0024] FIGURE 8 is an exploded view of an alternative embodiment of a deflector assembly.

[0025] FIGURE 9 is a side view of the barrier system shown in Figure 7.

[0026] FIGURE 10 is a cross-sectional view of the barrier shown Figure 9 taken along line 10-10.

[0027] FIGURE 1 1 is an side view of the barrier system on a non-impact side thereof.

[0028] FIGURE 12 is a cross-sectional view of one embodiment of a barrier system.

[0029] FIGURE 13 is an exploded view of an alternative embodiment of a non-impact side of a barrier system.

[0030] FIGURE 14 is an enlarged view of the coupler and auxiliary deflector member shown in Figure 13 taken along line 14.

[0031] FIGURE 15 is a side view of one embodiment of a deflector member.

[0032] FIGURE 16 is a side view of another embodiment of a deflector member.

[0033] FIGURE 17 is a plan view of an alternative barrier assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS [0034] It should be understood that the term "plurality," as used herein, means two or more. The term "longitudinal," as used herein means of or relating to length or the lengthwise direction 2 (Figure 1), for example of a deflector member 6, barrier 8, or assemblies thereof. The term "lateral," as used herein, means of or relating to a sideways direction 4, for example directed between or toward (or perpendicular to) the side of the barrier. The term "coupled" means connected to or engaged with, whether directly or indirectly, for example with an intervening member, and does not require the engagement to be fixed or permanent, although it may be fixed or permanent. The term "transverse" means extending across an axis, and/or substantially perpendicular to an axis. It should be understood that the use of numerical terms "first," "second," "third," etc., as used herein does not refer to any particular sequence or order of components; for example "first" and "second" barriers may refer to any sequence of such barriers, and is not limited to the first and second barriers of a particular configuration unless otherwise specified.

[0035] An improved fluid filled barrier system 10 is shown in Figures 1 and 2 as including a plurality of barriers 8 configured with an exterior reinforcement 12. It should be understood that the barriers 8 are preferably filled with water 60

(Figure 6), but that other fluids, including antifreeze, or combinations thereof, may be used. Referring to Figures 4 and 5, the barrier 8 includes a pair of opposite sides 14, 16, a top 18, a bottom 20 and opposite ends 22. The ends 22 of adjacent barriers are connected, for example with a pin 24. In one embodiment, the barrier is a Triton® barrier, available from Energy Absorption Systems, Inc., the assignee of the present application. One embodiment of the Triton® barrier is shown and disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 5,425,594, the entirety of which is hereby

incorporated herein by reference. In this embodiment, the barrier 8 includes an interior frame 26, a portion of which is shown in Figure 6. Of course, it should be understood that the exterior reinforcement may be used with other water filled barriers, including those configured with and without interior frames.

[0036] Referring to Figures 1 -3, the exterior reinforcement 12 includes a primary deflector assembly 30 that is coupled to a traffic side 14 of the barrier 8, which is the side of the barrier 8 exposed to impacting vehicles 28. In situations where the barrier has two traffic sides as shown in Figure 6, a primary deflector assembly 30 may be connected to both sides thereof. In other situations, where the barrier is exposed to the traffic/impacts on only one side as shown in Figures 12- 14, the reinforcement may be asymmetric, with a primary deflector assembly 30 arranged along the traffic side and a different reinforcement configuration

(auxiliary deflector assembly 40) provided on the non-impact (non- traffic) side 16 of the barrier. In this way, the costs of the system may be reduced without a significant degradation in performance, such as an increase in lateral deflection. Of course, primary deflector assemblies may be used on both sides of the barrier even when exposed to traffic only on one side where additional deflection resistance is desired. Indeed, the non-traffic side may be provided with greater deflection resistance than the traffic side in some embodiments.

[0037] In one embodiment shown in Figures 3-6, the deflector assembly 30 includes a coupler assembly 32 secured to a side 16 of the barrier 8 intermediate the ends 22 thereof. In one embodiment, the coupler assembly 32 is located proximate a mid-point of the length of the barrier. The coupler assembly includes a plurality (shown as two) of vertically spaced deflector receptacles 34 connected to a bracket 36. In one embodiment, the deflector receptacles 34 are configured as tubes connected to the bracket 36, for example by welding or with fasteners. The tubes 34 are shaped and sized to receive a pair of vertically spaced deflector members 6, also configured in one embodiment as tubes. In one embodiment, the deflector tubes 6 have an outer diameter of about 2 3/8 inches, with a 0.154 inch wall thickness. In various embodiments, the deflector member tubes 6 overlap with the receiver tube 34 of the coupler assembly 32, whether by the deflector tube being inserted inside the receiver tube, or by the deflector tube fitting around the outside of the receiver tube. It should be understood that the deflector members may have other configurations, such as solid bars, plates (flat, W-shaped, etc.), non-circular tubes, etc., and combinations thereof. In the various embodiments described herein, the deflector members 6 and coupler assemblies 32 may be made of steel, although it should be understood that they may be made of other materials.

[0038] The couplers 34 are of sufficient length so as to receive a pair of deflector members inserted into opposite ends thereof. In one embodiment, the ends 38 of the receptacle are tapered away from the side 16 of the barrier and away from the traffic flow 42 along a leading end such that they do not present a snagging hazard for the impacting vehicle 28. It should be understood that more than two deflector members 6 may be vertically spaced along the side 16 of the barrier, or alternatively, a single deflector member may be used depending on the location, height (or width) and deflection properties associated therewith.

[0039] After insertion, the deflector tubes 6 are secured to the coupler 34 with at least one bolt 46 and an associated nut 48. As shown in Figures 2, 4, 6 and 7, one embodiment of the reinforcement structure includes two tube coupler assemblies 32 mounted to each barrier 8, one on each side 14, 16. The deflector members 6 extend between adjacent tube couplers 34 connected to the same side of adjacent barriers 8 arranged in the system as shown in Figure 1. In this way, the deflector members 6 extend across the junction joint 50 between the adjacent barriers 8, thereby reducing the ability of the barriers to rotate relative to one another at that junction. The deflector tubes 6 are unitary and rigid members, and extend continuously between the spaced apart coupler assemblies without any breaks or joints formed in the deflector tubes. The deflector members 6 have a length proximate that of the barriers 8, but with the deflector members and barriers staggered or shifted such that the deflector members cross and reinforce the joint 50 between the barriers 8.

[0040] Referring to Figures 1 and 4-6, the brackets 36 on opposite sides 14, 16 of the barrier 8 are secured to the barrier and to each other with a connector 52, which passes through a port 54 extending through the barrier 10. The port 54 provides a tunnel through the barrier 8 that is sealed and formed integrally with the side walls to provide a sealed internal volume for the fluid. Both ends of the connector 52 have threaded holes 58, which allow fasteners 60, such as screws, to engage therewith and secure the coupler assemblies against the side 14, 16 of the barrier 8. In one embodiment, the connector is put in tension with the coupler assemblies bearing against the side of the barrier. Washers may be provided to ease assembly and to prevent pull through of the screws. Preferably, the brackets 36 are of sufficient length and/or height that they span the opening to the port 54 and may not be pulled therethrough, but rather engage a side surface of the barrier as the connector 52 is put in tension. The brackets 36 include deflector plates 62 that engage and hold the tube couplers 34 at a desired distance, e.g. about 2 inches, away from the side 14, 16 of the barriers, and may facilitate connection when disposed in a valley running along the side of the barrier. The deflector plates 62 are angled away from the sides of the barrier so as to prevent the edges of the bracket 36 from being snagged by the impacting vehicle 28 during an impact.

[0041] Referring to Figures 15 and 16, the deflector tubes 6 each have a plurality of holes formed around a periphery thereof. In one embodiment shown in Figure 15, pairs of holes 70 are located at 45 degree increments around the surface of the tube 6 relative to an axis 72 thereof at one end of the tube, with the holes in adjacent pairs 70 being shifted/staggered along the longitudinal direction 2, so as to provide eight (8) different length configurations between a selected one of the holes and its mate on an opposite side of the tube, and a corresponding pair of holes of an unstaggered array 78 of holes positioned at an opposite end of the tube 6. The holes 70 allow for the deflector tubes to be adjusted, longitudinally, relative to the tube couplers 34 engaged with the opposite ends of the deflector tube. For example, some of the barriers 8 may be longer or shorter than others because of variations in the way that they are made. There also may be some water filled barrier installations that have curves, which require that some of the tubes be of different lengths, for example on the inside of the curve (shorter) and on the outside of the curve (longer). However, instead of changing the length of the deflector tubes, the combinations of staggered holes are provided to allow adjustment in the length between the bolts which hold the tubes in place.

[0042] As can be seen in Figure 15, the adjustment between holes is ¼ inch, with the holes being 9/16 inches in diameter. Two 9/16 inch holes placed side to side, ¼ inch apart, would overlap each other, but by locating the next pair of holes 45 degrees around the circumference of the tube, the ¼ inch adjustment is preserved, without the holes overlapping each other. The embodiment of Figure 15 provides a total of 1 and ¾ inch of adjustment by using an array of holes located around one end of the tube, with the other end having an array of single holes arranged at 45 degree increments.

[0043] Figure 16 shows an alternative embodiment of the deflector member 6, with arrays 80 of holes 82 provided on both ends of the tube. Specifically, the holes 82 are arranged at 60 degree increments around the circumference of the tube, which provides for up to 1 and ½ inches of adjustment. The advantage of the embodiment of Figure 16 is that both ends of the tube are the same, although it may be more difficult for a user to determine which set of holes to use. In some embodiments, a pair of bolts 46 may be used to secure each end of the tube to each coupler, as shown in Figure 8. Alternatively, a single bolt may be used, but positioned in either of the hole patterns of the coupler to provide additional adjustment capabilities. In this way, it should be understood that the coupler may be provided with an array of holes, instead of the deflector tube, or in combination therewith, so as to provide for different lengths.

[0044] In one embodiment, as shown in Figure 6, the barrier includes an interior frame 26, with the upper tube couplers 32 and associated deflector members 6 in close proximity to the inner frame. This alignment of the frame elements (deflector members and inner frame) allows these elements to work together, stiffening the barrier so as to reduce its deflection during a vehicle impact.

[0045] Figures 1 1 -14 show alternate embodiments of an asymmetric exterior reinforcement structure having a primary deflector assembly with a plurality of deflector members 6 (shown as N=2) positioned on the traffic/impact side of the barrier and an auxiliary deflector assembly with one deflector member 6 (shown as M=l) positioned on the non-impact side of the barrier. In other embodiments, N may be greater than 2, and M may be greater than 1 , but with N>M. In this way, the primary deflector assembly is differently configured than the auxiliary deflector assembly, in that it has a greater number of deflector members, but also a greater overall bending strength. It should be understood that the auxiliary and primary deflector assemblies may also be asymmetric by using different shapes (e.g., different diameter tubes, straps etc.), different materials, or combinations thereof. Referring to Figures 1 1 and 12, the single deflector member 6 on the non-impact side of the barrier is centered vertically between the two deflector members 6 on the impact side of the barrier. This design enhances the stability of the outer steel frame design as the three deflector members tend to deflect uniformly around a vertically oriented axis 90, enhancing the stability of the outer frame and likewise the barrier installation as a whole. In this embodiment, the coupler 92 is larger than the port 54, and is secured directly to the connector 52.

[0046] Referring to Figures 13 and 14, a strap member 98 is provided on the non-impact side, thereby further reducing costs. A connector bracket 100 is coupled to the opposite coupler assembly with a connector 52, which may be welded to the bracket 100, or secured thereto with fasteners. A pair of bolts 102 and nuts 104 secures one end of the strap 98 to the connector bracket 100.

Preferably, the connector bracket 100 is larger (e.g., longer) than the mouth of the port 54, such that it cannot be pulled therethrough and thereby anchors the coupler assembly 32 on the other side of the barrier. During an impact, the strap 98 is put in tension and helps to prevent deflection of the system. Since the strap is put in tension, it can be made with a relatively small moment of inertia relative to a vertical axis, and does not need to have a high bending strength or resistance to buckling. As such, in this embodiment, the auxiliary deflector assembly has a different configuration than the primary deflector assembly by way of the shape of the deflector member, the number of deflector members, the positioning of the deflector members, and the properties thereof (bending, etc.), any one of which defines a "different configuration."

[0047] During assembly, the user positions the barriers 8 in a desired predetermined arrangement 10, as shown for example in Figures 1 and 2. A selected number of barriers 8 are configured with coupler assemblies 32, 100 (primary or auxiliary), both on an impact side of the barriers, and along a nonimpact side, or if positioned between two traffic lanes, on opposite impact sides. The coupler assemblies are secured to the barriers by inserting a connector 52 through the port 54 and then securing the brackets 36, 100 to the connector. While the barriers shown in the Figures have a port 54 that is positioned midway between the ends of the barrier, it should be understood that other barriers may have one or more ports that are offset between the ends at some location other than the midpoint, or several ports positioned between the ends. In these embodiments, the coupler assemblies may still be connected through one of the ports, with the deflector members extending therebetween and across the joint 50 as shown in, for example, Figure 17. Deflector members 6, 98 are then arranged across the joints 50 between adjacent barriers and coupled to the coupler assemblies 32, 100.

Depending on the distance between couplers 32, 100, whether due to a differential in barrier length or due to some angularity (non-linearity) between the barriers, the deflector members 6 may be rotated until a suitable pair of openings 70, 82 in the tube 6 are aligned with the holes in the coupler members 34, whereinafter the bolt 46 may be inserted through the mating holes to secure the deflector member 6 to the coupler 34. When using an auxiliary deflector member, such as strap 98, the strap is simply secured to the coupler bracket 100 with fasteners 102, 104. In one embodiment, the coupler assemblies 32, 100 and deflector member 6, 98 are sequentially installed along the length of the barrier assembly. The barriers may be filled with water 60, either before or after the reinforcement structure is coupled to the barriers.

[0048] In operation, after assembly, an errant vehicle 28 may impact the barrier system laterally as shown in Figure 1. The deflector members 6 reinforce the assembly across the connection joints 50, and along the length of the barriers, so as to minimize the lateral deflection of the system in response to the impact.

During the impact, the deflector members on the non-impact side, whether primary or auxiliary, are put in tension. In addition, the coupler assemblies 32, 100 on both sides serve as anchors to support and hold the assemblies 32 on the opposite side of the barrier.

[0049] Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. As such, it is intended that the foregoing detailed description be regarded as illustrative rather than limiting and that it is the appended claims, including all equivalents thereof, which are intended to define the scope of the invention.