Road diet? Diets aren't just for people anymore
As many of us go on a diet for our New Year’s resolution, it is a good time to review our transportation needs and determine if certain roadways should go on a diet as well. Road diets are becoming increasingly popular as transportation agencies seek to provide multi-modal transportation accommodations within existing right-of-way.
The primary benefit of a road diet is to provide pedestrian and bicycle accommodations within the original roadway footprint or existing right-of-way. Typically, road diets restripe or reconstruct a four-lane undivided roadway into a three-lane roadway to provide two through lanes and one center two-way left-turn lane. Other accommodations may include transit stops, on-street parking, pedestrian refuge islands or wider lanes.
Like New Year’s diets, roadway diets are not a good fit for everyone or every situation. A number of factors must be reviewed prior to placing a roadway on a diet, including:
- Traffic operations
- Travel times
- Intersection delays
- Redirection to other roadways
- Side Road Operations
- Multimodal operations including pedestrians and bicyclists
- Access Management
- Cross-Section Elements
Luckily, there is a wealth of information available from the Federal Highway Administration to provide engineers and transportation agencies with information about road diets, including the benefits and factors to help determine whether a road diet is the right solution for a particular roadway. Currently, FHWA is reviewing road diets as part of the Everyday Counts 3 initiative across the country. According to the EDC initiative, FHWA works with State departments of transportation, local governments, tribes, contractors, universities, industry groups and other stakeholders to identify a new collection of innovations to champion every two years. The innovations all share common goals:
- Shorten project delivery
- Enhance the safety and durability of bridges and roadways
- Reduce traffic congestion
- Protect the environment
As road diets become a more viable solution for roadway needs, more information has become readily available for roadway engineers. The FHWA website provides information on road diets under the EDC-3 Initiative. The recent FHWA Stewardship Newsletter also includes information concerning road diets. The Kentucky Transportation Center has completed a research document for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet that provides Guidelines for Road Diet Conversions.
With a wealth of information available, we can confidently evaluate roadways to determine if a road diet is the correct solution for a particular roadway. Happy dieting!
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