Jersey barriers (1969)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Aug 24 19:12:54 UTC 2005

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 12:57:36 -0400, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

>FWIW, I'm quite familiar with the term, "Jersey barrier," but I first
>knew this kind of low, sectioned, (re)movable, concrete wall as a
>"Jersey dike." I continue to use this latter term in preference to the
>former, just for the hell of it. In both cases, I learned the term by
>reading it somewhere at some time later than 1969.

Hmm, never heard "Jersey dike" before. But here are some other variants...

* (New) Jersey wall

1973 _N.Y. Times_ 9 Dec. 151/1 The easy-to-construct, easy-to-maintain
median is known as the "Jersey Wall" because it was developed by engineers
in New Jersey's state transportation department.

1981 _Washington Post_ 1 Jan. C1/2 Among the safetyy features is the famed
"New Jersey Wall," a concrete highway divider constructed not only to
prevent cars from swerving into oncoming traffic, but to "hug" the car
until the driver can regain control.

1989 _Toronto Star_ 19 Mar. A3 (Factiva) Doherty said crews are putting in
a "Jersey Wall," a temporary barrier needed to protect road crews who will
repair the crumbling expressway this summer.

1991 R.A. BEAL _Highway 17_ During the 1989 earthquake in the Santa Cruz
Mountains, the Jersey wall had 350 breaks or significant cracks in the
Highway 17 section alone!

2000 R. PEABODY _Sugar Mountain_ 26 Hal's entire being stops, like he's
run into a jersey wall, the proverbial brick wall of middle age.

* (New) Jersey divider

1988 _News Record_ (North Hills, Pa.) 9 Feb. 4/2 As a former New Jersey
resident for 18 years, I am quite familiar with the use of "Jersey"
dividers for saftey on congested highways in populous areas with many
retail establishments. I am in favor of putting the Jersey dividers on
Route 19 in Wexford.

1990 _News Record_ (North Hills, Pa.) 29 May 3/4 PennDOT has studied the
feasibility of a New Jersey divider and ruled it out.

1995 _Seattle Times_ 14 Feb. B1 (Factiva) What are the black marks that
show up on the jersey dividers of I-90?

2001 _Sun_ 27 Feb. (Factiva) Samy Vellu said the proposed road project
will also involve the upgrading of a 5.5km stretch, the construction of
five overhead interchanges, six bridges, pedestrian walks and "jersey

2004 M. BOWDEN _Thunder Run_ 59 They were the kind of dividers he had seen
on American interstates -- what some people called Jersey dividers, after
the New Jersey Turnpike.

* Jersey median barrier

1980 _Frederick Post_ (Md.) 4 Nov. B11/4 Included in the project are the
addition of a third lane from the southbound tunnel to the toll plaza, and
construction of a Jersey median barrier to enhance roadway safety.

1991 M.G. MCNALLY (report title) The impact of Jersey median barriers on
the frequency and severity of freeway accidents.

1996 _Telegram & Gazette_ (Worcester, Ma.) 10 May A1 (Factiva) They
include installation of Jersey median barriers along a three-mile section
of Route 20 from Richardson's Corner Road to the Route 31 intersection,
with openings at various locations for turning onto local roads, Donohue

1999 _N.Y. Law Journal_ 24 Feb. 25 (Nexis) Plaintiffs take issue with the
City's claim that its maintenance contract with the State imposed no
obligation on the City to make capital improvements such as installing the
"Jersey" median barriers on the Drive.

* Jersey median

1994 _Gretchen's Garden_ in _rec.arts.poems_ (Usenet newsgroup) 10 Mar.,
This is gorkys and gethsemanes and jersey medians.

1996 _The Record_ (Northern N.J.) 24 Mar. T6 (Factiva) OK, so it's an old
joke. But along with being famous for diners, malls, and a concrete
highway divider -- the Jersey Median -- the Garden State is also famous
for its superhighways.

1997 _The Record_ (Northern N.J.) 17 Aug. N1 (Factiva) That started an
improvement program and the grassy center islands were replaced by
concrete Jersey medians.

1997 _Grain/Tank wagons_ in _aus.rail_ (Usenet newsgroup) 11 Dec., I
couldn't see the code on them as I was on the other side of the road and
the stupid jersey median gets in the way.

--Ben Zimmer

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