Deception Pass Log Rail in Washington State

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, mode - rail


Stakeholders, Road safety, NCHRP Report 350, National Register of Historic Places, Impact tests, Historic preservation, Highway safety, Guiderails, Guardrails, Guard rails, Guard fences, Esthetics, Deception Pass State Park (Washington), Crash tests, Context sensitive design, Collision tests, Aesthetics


Washington State Route 20 (SR-20) in Northwest Washington passes through the Deception Pass State Park. The portion of SR-20 within the park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the mid-1930s. As part of this work, the CCC built a stone masonry bollard and log rail system to delineate the edge of the road and prevent early-model vehicles from leaving the roadway. Because of their age, quality of workmanship, and importance to the surroundings, the park’s bridges and log rail are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Previous attempts to replace this rail with a crashworthy system were unsuccessful because of the concern that the aesthetic and historic integrity of the park be preserved. A new approach adopted by the Washington State Department of Transportation began with understanding the context of the highway and the concerns of the other stakeholders. In addition, the stakeholders were educated on the safety issues. As a result, a solution was developed and was acceptable to all. The primary solution involved the development of a new barrier that replicated the appearance of the original log rail. This barrier was crash tested in accordance with NCHRP Report 350 TL-2 criteria and is available for use at other locations at which an aesthetic barrier is desired.