With the aim of reducing congestion on the Twin Cities’ highly traveled I-35W corridor between the Minnesota River and I-94, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began a major set of I-35W improvements in 2009 as part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). Among the improvements was the addition of a priced dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL) on parts of the 17-mile stretch of highway; however, following the opening of these improvements, the frequency of rear-end crashes increased in certain sections—especially in the PDSL regions.
To untangle the underlying causes of this increase, MnDOT enlisted the help of researchers in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering. “Our primary objective was to determine if these increases were direct effects of the improvements or if they were due to changes in the traffic conditions,” says Professor Gary Davis, the principal investigator. “MnDOT was interested in extending some or all of these improvements to other corridors but needed to know what the safety impacts were to aid its decision making.”
To reduce congestion and improve safety, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has deployed active traffic management (ATM) technology on two freeways in the Twin Cities. The ATM system incorporates intelligent lane control signals placed over selected lanes at half-mile increments to warn motorists of incidents or hazards ahead.
Using this existing ATM infrastructure, U of M researchers have developed and field-tested two prototypes for queue warning systems in a new MnDOT-funded project. The warning systems specifically focus on preventing rear-end collisions—the most frequent type of crash on freeways.
When drivers approach a roadway work zone at high speeds, they put the lives of work-zone flaggers at risk. To keep flaggers safe on the job, U of M researchers are looking for better ways to capture drivers’ attention—and compel them to slow down—as they approach flagger-controlled work zones.
Kathleen Harder, director of the Center for Design in Health, and John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, identified and tested new work-zone warning elements to more effectively capture and sustain driver attention. The project was funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board.
Last month, CTS debuted two videos about the many contributions U of M researchers have made—and are still making—in traffic operations and pavement design.
The videos are one of the ways CTS is marking 30 years of transportation innovation. Our goal is to show how research progresses over time—from curiosity to discovery to innovation. The videos also show how U of M research meets the practical needs of Minnesotans in the Twin Cities metro and throughout the state.
U of M researchers have received funding from MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) for 15 new projects beginning this summer.
Researchers will tackle a number of big transportation questions: How should our transportation agencies prepare for connected vehicle technology? Are unseen factors affecting safety at rural intersections? Can Twin Cities roadsides be used to grow habitat for endangered bumble bees?
Posted in Bridges and structures
, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
, Traffic operations
, Transportation research
, Urban transportation
While multilane roundabouts almost always reduce fatal and severe crashes, failure to yield and improper lane-use violations can lead to a higher number of minor crashes. To better understand and address these violations at multilane roundabouts, U of M researcher John Hourdos has conducted two studies funded by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB).
A new LRRB brochure summarizes findings from these studies and offers highlights of local agency experience to date.
While two-lane roundabouts almost always reduce fatal and severe crashes, they can also lead to a substantial increase in minor crashes. To help combat this problem, researchers with the Roadway Safety Institute are investigating solutions for reducing crashes at two-lane urban roundabouts.
The research, funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, began in 2011 with a troublesome two-lane roundabout in Richfield, Minnesota. Following the roundabout’s construction, the number of property-damage crashes increased substantially at the site. Experts at the Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) were brought in to make improvements and gauge their effectiveness with a before-and-after study.