Know About Road Zipper Technology for Bridges & Tunnels

What is Road Zipper?

Road zipper is a movable barrier created to manage lanes for bridges and there by providing a better barrier protection. The wall of the barrier is lifted from the surface of the road and it is moved laterally at an optimum speed to meet the high traffic demand. In this way, accidents can be avoided to some extent. This kind of road zipper is required because of the extremely increasing traffic flow; in such cases, where making new constructions is a difficult task and it is expensive too.

Road authorities in many countries are implementing road zippers because they are low in cost, and it is a reusable solution to maximize the budget. It can improve safety and increases traffic throughout, thus reduces the congestion.

The driver of the road zipper, in the front of the truck, picks up the barrier and moves it through the truck. A rear driver puts it down in the meanwhile, the blue lines help in guiding the above process. All the trucks work on identical driving mechanisms, such that the driver need not turn around. The barrier rests on the bridge due to gravitational force there by holding it in place and it is strong enough to absorb the major impacts. For installing the road zipper, efficient construction equipment is need so as to expand the work zone and for eliminating and the work can be completed faster. They are being widely implemented in countries like China, Spain, and the US.

Why zip the road?

Road zipper is also called as barrier transfer machine or zipper machine. Basically, they are heavy vehicles used to shift the concrete lane dividers from one place to other. In this way, they can avoid traffic congestion during peak hours. Many cities are now using them temporarily if any construction is to be done. Lanes are created for transporting the road zipper and these lanes are called zipper lanes. They can be included in tunnels, managed lanes, bridges and in high volume highways; a right of way option is not available. They are also useful when the cost of construction of a new lane is too high. The system provides commuter buses opportunities that increase the toll revenue and ridership and avoids constriction points. Road zippers are the quickest and safest solution for a long term use.

How does it work?

Highly reinforced strong concrete barriers are bound together at each end to form a barrier wall. The barriers thus have a T-shaped top that acts as a lifting surface for the whole equipment. The road zipper machine lifts the barrier and moves through the conveyor system. This is a patented barrier that allows for expansion joints and lane curvature. The barrier is thus transferred up to a certain length and gently settles down, without affecting the road at an optimum speed. The heavily reinforced barriers of this system have a better vehicle stability and deflection compared to standard temporary barriers.


  • The main advantage of road zippers is that they are solid and these can prevent vehicle collisions and major accidents, which may occur due to driver’s crossing over into opposite traffic flow.
  • It can reduce the time taken to travel to any place, as this is faster and less time-consuming.
  • Increases the road capacity and helps to lessen the traffic.
  • The additional lanes can helpful during the rush hours.
  • They are lesser in cost compared to building a new lane and its speeder in implementation
  • Improves fuel efficiency and commute time.
  • The system operates in any weather conditions.
  • They are reusable and can reduce air pollutants.


  • The size of lanes widths in the road will be reduced, which can be a problem for others using the road.
  • High investments are required to install the bridges and road zippers.
  • It would be inconvenient for the drivers to move beside the barriers.


Road zippers contain an inverted conveyor channel with S-shaped in its undercarriage that can lift the barrier system off the road surface and can transfer them to the other side of the lane. In this way, it can reallocate the traffic lanes thereby accommodating the increased traffic. Steel connectors are used to link together the barriers so that it can become sturdy and flexible safety barrier. The system helps the contractors to expand the work zone, compensates the missing lanes. They also offer the contractors and road authorities as a practical strategy to make the congested highways efficient, functional and safe.

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