Slow It Down

Slow It Down

Don’t let choosing the correct traffic control system become a burden to you

Protecting perimeters, buildings, property and people is no small responsibility, whether it is an embassy, a school, factory or farmers market. Knowing you have the right equipment in place to secure your facility and to prevent human tragedies brings a peace of mind that no amount of money can buy.

Carefully researching available options and consulting with experts will ultimately lead to the right solution for you. Keeping pedestrians safe, protecting structures from accidental or intentional automobile crashes, and force protection (keeping employees and visitors from harm) have always been a concern. From pedestrian-filled farmers markets and universities to new and used car lots, a wide variety of agencies find peace of mind using barriers, barricades, bollards and crash gates for vehicle-based physical access control at the perimeter.

You might be surprised at how versatile perimeter protection equipment has become, even in difficult installation environments. Here is a look at what is available in the world of physical security today. From sturdy, portable crash barriers that can be towed into place to barricades that will stop a 15-ton truck in its tracks, going 50 miles per hour, physical access control has evolved and adapted. No matter how large, small or temporary the application may be, there is a security solution.

Wedge Barriers

With a crash rating as high as K54 in widths up to 240 inches, a lowered wedge barrier will allow the flow of authorized vehicles. These security barricades are the first line of defense at critical facilities including embassies, nuclear facilities, military bases and corporate headquarters. They provide high-speed operations, shallow foundations and sleek designs that are aesthetically pleasing and extremely effective. With security systems built for high-traffic locations requiring rapid emergency fast operation rates, these counter-terrorism barricade systems can meet and exceed governments’ highest-level requirements.

Surface mounted wedge barricades feature quick installation into difficult locations such as parking-structure ramps or areas with subsurface drainage problems. The shallow foundation barriers eliminate concerns about interference with buried pipes, power lines and fiber optic communication lines. It also reduces installation complexity, time, materials and corresponding costs. These types of barriers are suitable for high water table locations and areas with corrosive soils.

Crash rated, lowered barriers allow passage of authorized vehicles and are available in widths up to 240 inches. Surface mounted barricades are very easy to install and provide high security vehicle access-control system for banks, city and federal government offices, museums, corporate buildings, factories, oil refineries, railway, airport and other transportation hubs, as well as other facilities threatened by truck bomb attack, errant drivers or car-crashing thieves.

High security, shallow foundation barriers are available for advanced counter-terrorism applications in sub-surface conditions that negate extensive excavations. This type of barricade was designed for the Navy, and used at U.S. embassies. Set in a foundation only 18 inches deep, shallow foundation barriers are able to survive and operate after a 1.2 million foot-pound impact.

In the lowered position, the shallow foundation barrier ramp is completely flush with the roadway. Buttresses, counterweights and road plates do not obstruct authorized pedestrian or vehicular traffic. The barrier is raised and lowered to and from the guard position via hydraulic cylinders driven by a hydraulic power unit. This unit can be configured to provide pass-through rates of 3 to 15 seconds, suitable for most inspection and identification station requirements. However, when danger is imminent, the barricade rises in less than 2 seconds.

With the price of steel going higher, a new type of barrier provides multiple hit capabilities in an open frame barrier design. This barrier is fully-operational after the force of a M50 impact. The fact that no-assist devices are used to operate this electro-mechanical barrier is something completely new to the industry. In addition, the fact that little rebar is needed in the very small foundation is a win for the end user.

Beam Barricades

Crash rated beams are available in hydraulic, electric and manually operated models. They carry ratings from M30 to M50 with penetration levels up to P1 (3’ or less). Adjustable speed options are available with the ability to provide an Emergency Fast Operation of less than 2 seconds if required.

Beam barriers are the perfect solution for ingress and egress applications where good vehicle throughput is needed without having to disturb the roadway during installation. The buttresses sit on either side of the road with only the beam perched above it. They are an ideal solution to deter theft from parking lots and used at government facilities, military bases, airports and public and private entities.


Bollards move up and down, and are aesthetically pleasing and allow pedestrians to move between them in non-roadway applications. Manual versions are counter-balanced, and lock in the up or down position, with minimal effort. Models are crash-rated and lowered to allow passage of authorized vehicles. Automated bollards can be activated as quickly as two seconds.

High-security bollard systems operate individually, or in groups of up to 10, and used for intermediate to high-level security applications. Individual bollards are up to 13.25 inches in diameter, up to 39.3 inches high and usually mounted on 3-foot centers. Hydraulic and pneumatic, electromechanical and manual versions can be operated by a variety of control systems.

They are available with a variety of decorative covers and the architect may design their own cast covers to reflect architectural details of the facility. You can specify cast sleeves of aluminum, fiberglass or brushed stainless steel, all of which slip right over the crash tube. Crash rated bollards may be fitted with an internal warning light for increased visibility and engineered to suit high-volume traffic

Fixed post versions are available to secure the sides of roadways with the same crash rating and appearance.

Portable Designs

Portable plate barricades provide security against vehicle-based terrorism or thefts for high-cycle locations such as the entrances to large office facilities, government agencies and military bases. Able to deploy in high-traffic locations for full manual or automatic operation within two hours, the quick deployment modular barricades lie level to the ground to allow vehicles to pass and raised or lowered into position using a hydraulic cylinder driven by a hydraulic power unit or manually operated.

Others are self-contained and are stored and towed on their own trailers. Municipalities, event organizers and others that stage temporary events, ranging from farmers markets to concerts and sporting events that need a commercial barrier towed into place to protect attendees as well as against an errant driver.

Towable barricades answer the need of organizations that require a temporary barricade system to protect against a specific threat or secure a facility during special events. The self-contained unit placed in position, controls vehicle access within 15 minutes. Once positioned, the mobile barricade unpacks itself by using hydraulics to raise and lower itself off its wheels. Simply plug in standard 120v or 220v power and you are ready to go. The unit is M40 certified and comes in lengths of 12, 16 and 20 feet.

Portable bollards also offer M30 and M50 protection with easy setup and maneuverability. They can be used in conjunction with the unit described above to provide M50 protection. Portable bollards allow law enforcement and security providers to create a high security special event barricades that block access to temporary venues where vehicles can be used as weapons against large numbers of pedestrians.

Sliding Gates

From airports to embassies, from warehouses to depots, high-security crash rated gates stop unauthorized pedestrians and vehicles from entering places that they do not belong. Some models operate without contact with the ground across the opening. There is a manually operated swing gate and others operate with rack and pinion drives across V-groove wheel ground tracks while incorporating IR safety beam and safety edges. Swing versions are also available.

The clear openings range from 12 to 30 feet. The standard height for all, except the swing gate, is 109 inches. Not only can crash rated gates withstand impacts as high as a 15,000 lb. vehicle striking at 50 MPH and suffer no significant damage, but they also can look good too. Sliding high security gates are powered by either electromechanical or hydraulic systems. Perimeter entry control high security gates are found at airports, power plants, embassies, military installations and government facilities.

No Application Too Large or Small

Protecting perimeters of facilities is no small responsibility. Knowing you have the right equipment in place to secure the facility and to prevent human tragedy brings a peace of mind that no amount of money can buy. Carefully researching available options and consulting with experts will ultimately lead to the right solution.

This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Campus Security Today.


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