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Use of Freeway Shoulders for Travel — Guide for Planning, Evaluating, and Designing Part-Time Shoulder Use as a Traffic Management Strategy

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Publication #: FHWA-HOP-15-023

February 2016

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Foreword

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Operations in cooperation with the Office of Infrastructure is pleased to present this publication titled “Use of Freeway Shoulders for Travel - Guide for Planning, Evaluating, and Designing Part-Time Shoulder Use as a Traffic Management Strategy” (Shoulder Use Guide).

As defined in this Guide, part-time shoulder use converts paved roadside shoulders to an area used for travel during portions of the day as a congestion relief strategy. It is sometimes known as temporary shoulder use or hard shoulder running, and is typically implemented on freeways. When evaluated as part of a Performance-Based Practical Design (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/pbpd/) alternative, part-time shoulder use can be a cost-effective solution to improving operations and safety by providing additional capacity when it is needed most, while preserving the use of a shoulder as a refuge area during the majority of the day. In some cases, shoulder use applications can serve as an interim solution to highway capacity constraints while agencies further study and / or acquire the necessary resources for adding general purpose travel lanes.

Part-time shoulder use is a common practice in some European countries and has been gaining interest in the U.S. There are currently over 30 shoulder use installations in operation across the country covering 14 states. While there is much variety in these applications, the most frequent approach to date is the use of freeway shoulders by transit vehicles during peak period times of the day. Despite the growing interest, there is a lack of guidance and standards to help practitioners through the process of evaluating potential shoulder use implementations.

Based on interviews with agencies that have deployed shoulder use treatments, interviews with Federal Highway Administration subject matter experts, and research on relevant safety and operations effects and analytical techniques, this Guide synthesizes information and best practices. While questions remain in some areas of the Guide and more experience with shoulder use and additional research is needed to provide more specific direction to practitioners, this Guide outlines a process and covers a range of issues including planning, design, implementation, and day-to-day operation that will help agencies advance shoulder use concepts in their states in a more consistent manner.

The FHWA Office of Operations is supporting this Guide through workshops and related technical assistance. If you have any comments on this material, seek further assistance, or wish to discuss opportunities for hosting a workshop, please contact Jim Hunt jim.hunt@dot.gov or Greg Jones GregM.Jones@dot.gov from the Office of Operations or Robert Mooney Robert.Mooney@dot.gov from the Office of Infrastructure.

Robert Arnold
Director Office of Transportation Management
Office of Operations, FHWA

Tom Everett
Director Office of Program Administration
Office of infrastructure, FHWA

Technical Documentation Page

1. Report No.

Publication #: FHWA-HOP-15-023

2. Government Accession No.


3. Recipient's Catalog No.


4. Title and Subtitle

Use of Freeway Shoulders for Travel Guide for Planning, Evaluating, and Designing Part-Time Shoulder Use as a Traffic Management Strategy

5. Report Date

February 2016

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Jenior, P., Dowling, R., Nevers, B. (Kittelson & Associates, Inc.); Neudorff, L. (CH2M)

8. Performing Organization Report No.

18112

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Kittelson & Associates, Inc.
300 M Street SE, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20001

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-12-D-00049/5001

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

United States Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Technical Report
Informational Report
Sept 2014 to Feb 2016

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

FHWA

15. Supplementary Notes

Jim Hunt (jim.hunt@dot.gov) served as the Government Task Manager

16. Abstract

Part-time shoulder use is the conversion of shoulders to travel lanes during some hours of day as a congestion relief strategy. This strategy is also known as temporary shoulder use or hard shoulder running, and is typically implemented on freeways. Part-time shoulder use is a transportation system management and operations (TSM&O) strategy that uses shoulders to provide additional capacity when it is most needed, and preserves shoulders as refuge areas during the majority of the day. This guide covers planning, design, implementation, and day-to-day operation of shoulder use. It covers a wide variety of design and operational concepts for shoulder use, and describes how a performance based practical design (PBPD) process guides the planning of facilities with shoulder use.

17. Key Words

Shoulder Use, Hard Shoulder Running, Shoulder Lanes, Active Traffic Management, Performance-Based Practical Design

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions.

19. Security Classification (of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classification (of this page)

Unclassified

21. No of Pages

170

22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)
Reproduction of completed page authorized.


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