How Do Water Filled Barriers Compare To Concrete Jersey Barriers?

Water Fillable Plastic Jersey Barriers

In the late 1950's the New Jersey State And Highway department and a local technology institute created what we now call the "Jersey Barrier". While the original concrete jersey barrier was created to divide multiple lanes of traffic, it's now more commonly used to protect work sites or construction zones from the surrounding traffic. (And more creatively, the fictional character Mike Roark, (played by Tommy Lee Jones), uses these barricades to stop the flow of lava in the 1997 movie Volcano.) 

This move towards temporary use has popularized lighter weight, more portable plastic jersey barriers, often filled with water or sand. 


These water filled barricades are very different than concrete barricades in 3 major ways:

1. Water filled plastic barricades are optimized for temporary use.

Concrete barricades are usually permanently installed while water filled barricades are easily moved from place to place when emptied of their ballasting water or sand. This makes them ideal for temporary uses such as traffic redirection for construction.  

2. Water filled plastic barricades are not crash barriers.

The features which make this water filled barricade type lightweight and easy to move also make it more breach-able. Concrete jersey barricades are sturdy enough to help prevent cars from breaking through, and a slight sloping design at the base can even help redirect a vehicle's tires towards the road. Water filled plastic barricades do not have these features.

3. Water filled plastic barricades are designed for high visibility.

While these hollow plastic jersey barriers can be constructed in a wide variety of colors, the most common colors are orange and white. These bright colors are highly visible even in low lighting, promoting cautious and attentive driving in areas of high risk. This makes them ideal barricades for construction sites, work zones, or airports.


Plastic water filled jersey barriers are similar to concrete jersey barriers in 2 major ways:

1. Water filled plastic barricades interlock to create uninterrupted barrier walls.

Like the concrete originals, water filled plastic barricades maintain the convenient interlocking functionality so that barricades can be made to any length or shape without gaps. 

2. Water filled plastic barricades are sturdy once filled, and durable against weather and wind.

At ~8,000 lbs, a 12 foot concrete jersey barricade is certainly heavier than a water filled plastic barrier. But you may be surprised to learn that two 6 foot water filled jersey barricades can weigh as much as 2,666 lbs (once filled with water or sand). This makes them more than sufficiently stable in even high winds.


Features Plastic Water Filled Barricade Concrete Jersey Barricade
Crash Barrier No Yes
High Visibility Yes No
Portability Yes No
Permanence No Yes
Common Uses Delineation of worksites, construction sites, and temporary detours on highways, off-ramps, or airports. Crash barrier medians to separate multiple lanes of traffic.

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