Innovations help agencies create a safer transportation system for travelers. Winners of the 2019 National Roadway Safety Awards applied Every Day Counts innovations such as median U-turn intersections and high-friction surface treatments (HFST) to reduce crashes and save lives.
Sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and Roadway Safety Foundation, the competition honors successful approaches to improving roadway safety. “We commend the winners for their success not only in saving lives on our Nation’s roads, but also for maximizing the cost-effectiveness of Federal, State, and local funds that were used,” said FHWA Executive Director Tom Everett.
A multidisciplinary team conducting a road safety audit (RSA) identified three at-grade intersections on U.S. 63 in central Missouri for improvements because of a history of four fatal and eight severe-injury crashes. At all three locations, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) constructed median U-turn intersections, which improve safety by eliminating side road crossing and left-turn movements at intersections on four-lane expressways.
An extensive public involvement campaign educated stakeholders on the need for safety improvements and the benefits of the median U-turn concept. MoDOT awarded the three projects in combination to a single contractor. The cost for each intersection ranged from $650,000 to $1.43 million, substantially less than the estimated $5 million to $7 million that traditional interchange improvements would have cost at each location.
Post-construction monitoring over 4 years found that overall crashes were reduced by 50 percent and fatal and serious-injury crashes were eliminated. “The RSA team recommended the installation of the median U-turns to improve safety while maintaining access to the highway,” said Kevin James, MoDOT assistant district engineer. “These three intersections along U.S. 63 are now safer for all drivers as a result of constructing the median U-turns.”
South Dakota has five times more roadway departure crashes involving winter road conditions than wet road conditions. Moreover, a third of the State’s road departure crashes occur on horizontal curves, even though these curves make up less than 10 percent of the road network.
After discovering that HFST—a pavement overlay system with exceptional skid resistance—had not been evaluated as a countermeasure for road departure crashes involving winter conditions, the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) conducted a test project at four curves with the help of Accelerated Innovation Deployment Demonstration funds. Analysis showed a 77 to 80 percent crash reduction at the locations where HFST was installed.
Because of that success, SDDOT expanded HFST application to 15 locations and observed a total crash reduction of 78 percent in the two winters after installation. Ultimately, SDDOT anticipates that the use of HFST will save $18 million in societal crash costs.
“This project has demonstrated that HFST is a great tool for enhancing our facilities with the goal of reducing crashes and fatalities,” said Joel Jundt, SDDOT deputy secretary. “We were very excited with the results of the project and will be using the treatment on other locations in the State where appropriate.”