U-turn design reduces conflict for motorists

Posted in: Highways


Designed U-turns, Texas Turnarounds or Reduced Conflict U-turns are just a few of the many names given to these unique turnarounds sweeping the nation. You don’t need to be in Texas to come across as Texas U-turn. While originated in the Lone Star State, these versatile roads can be found throughout the United States.

Texas U-turns, or Reduced Conflict U-turns as they’re more formally known, are an excellent choice for at-grade divided highway intersections where a full interchange is not warranted. Without a Designed U-turn option, drivers are forced to cross two lanes of traffic and accelerate into the left lane when looking to make a left turn movement. In essence, the intersection becomes a right-in/right-out intersection with protected U-turns on either side of the intersection. This creates additional conflict points, increasing the risk for collisions. With a Designed U-turn, these additional conflict points are completely eliminated with a protected turnaround and acceleration facilities. These can be signalized or signed depending on the level of traffic and the size of vehicle.

Improving driver safety for highways is not the only benefit of these Designed U-turns. Frontage roads become major thoroughfares in urban areas as they are often the only access point for many businesses. Companies situated on one-way streets suffer when customers are blocked from accessing their storefront. Creating safe U-turns for these busy streets reduces the number of wrecks, which in turn keeps stores, restaurants and offices accessible to customers.

While a Texas U-turn junction won’t solve every problem with an overly-congested intersection, adding these frontage U-turn lanes can quickly eliminate a handful of conflict points. It is an excellent alternative if your project is on a tight budget and deadline.

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About the Author

Ben Dzioba, PE, PMP, DBIA is one of Mead & Hunt’s design-build leaders. He works on all types of engineering projects and the development and implementation of quality management. He has worked with a variety of clients, including Departments of Transportation, local agencies and contractors.