Despite the need to reduce vehicle travel to improve air quality and reduce congestion, roadways remain a primary component in addressing the region’s transportation needs for a number of reasons.
The region’s roadway system is critical to both private citizens and freight cargo movements.
Roads provide the right-of-way for buses, making them an integral part of the public transportation system.
Roadways are used for most bicycle travel in the region.
Overview of the Region’s Roadway Network
The OKI region contains more than 3,000 miles of major roadways and an additional 6,000 miles of other roadways are used to transport both passengers and goods via private automobile, taxi, bus, bicycle and truck, traveling approximately 50 million vehicle miles a day.
Total Roadway Miles
Daily Vehicle Miles
National Highway System
The core of the roadway network is this region’s components of the National Highway System (NHS). There are 398 miles of NHS carrying over 50% of the daily traffic within the OKI region.
At the other end of the roadway network spectrum are scenic byways. These distinct and diverse roadways strengthen the tourist industry’s contribution to the region’s economy. Scenic routes are valued and even designated for driving pleasure. In addition to serving transportation needs, these routes help preserve communities and the surrounding countryside. Read more...
Five scenic byways exist within the OKI region:
- Ohio River Scenic Byway in IndianaThe Ohio River Scenic Byway includes roads along the entire Indiana riverfront from the Illinois to Ohio borders. Included in this byway are 358 miles of roadway designated as a national scenic byway. Within Dearborn County, this includes SR 56 from the Ohio County line to Aurora, and US 50 from Aurora to the Ohio state line.
- Ohio River Scenic Route in OhioAs in Indiana, the Ohio section of the Ohio River Scenic Byway includes roads along the entire Ohio riverfront from Indiana to Pennsylvania. Along the Ohio riverfront, 452 miles of roadway have been designated as a national scenic byway. Within OKI, the scenic byway follows US 50 and 52 in Hamilton and Clermont counties.
- Accommodation Line Scenic BywayNamed after the Accommodation stage coach line, this scenic byway received designation by the State of Ohio in 1999 and runs seven miles in Ohio from Waynesville in Warren County to Spring Valley in Greene County. The route is primarily on US 42 except where it follows the old highway through the communities of Waynesville, Mt. Holly and Spring Valley.
- Big Bone Lick - Middle Creek Scenic BywayThis scenic byway connects the Middle Creek County Park and Dinsmore Homestead on KY 18 with Big Bone Lick State Park on KY 338 in southern Boone County. The route covers 20 miles and also follows the Ohio River through the community of Belleview, Kentucky.
- Riverboat Row Scenic BywayRiverboat Row follows the Newport waterfront on the Ohio River in Campbell County, Kentucky. The route is approximately one mile and provides views of the Ohio River, Cincinnati skyline and access to several waterfront restaurants.
Strategies to Address Existing Roadway Needs
A number of strategies for improving mobility, connectivity, congestion andare available options and should be explored before recommending new or expanded roadway facilities due to financial, environmental and social impacts. This Plan has identified a number of roadway improvement projects for addressing mobility through and within the region on existing roadways. Operation and maintenance projects (O&M) are not specifically identified in this Plan, however they are consistent with the goals of this Plan.
Preservation and Rehabilitation
The 9,000+ miles of roadway in the region are expected to continue to provide service throughout the planning period. Reconstruction projects are needed to preserve and maintain the roadway system. This plan gives funding priority to system preservation and allocates a sizeable portion of available revenues to this purpose.
Regardless of the type of roadway facility, operational improvements can enhance the mobility and Read more...of travelers in the OKI region. Most operational improvements can be implemented relatively quickly and at lower costs than capacity projects. Many of the recommended roadway projects in this plan incorporate operational improvements as a means of addressing mobility, congestion and needs. This includes complete streets measures such as restriping for bike lanes, crosswalks near transit stops and filling in existing sidewalk gaps.
The text that follows offers examples of several operational improvements already implemented throughout the OKI region.
Access Management involves the design, operation and location of driveway and street connections onto a roadway. Control is achieved by public plans or policies aimed at preserving the functional integrity of the existing roadway system. Access management is fundamental to preventing the mobility and Read more...problems caused by multiple curb cuts and traffic signals. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the application of access management techniques can increase both travel speeds and crashes by as much as 50%. By enabling roadways to perform more efficiently, access management increases roadway capacity which may reduce the need for expansion projects and help preserve and maintain the existing infrastructure.
Signalization is often an effective means of improving traffic flow in developed corridors. Since computerized traffic signal systems were first introduced in the late 1970s, options have increased for reducing congestion by applying and coordinating progressive signal systems as exemplified by closed loop systems. On a corridor, area-wide or multi-jurisdictional basis, centralized networks may involve hundreds of signalized intersections. The benefits of improved signal systems are commonly measured by reductions in travel time, vehicle stops, delay, fuel consumption and emissions and increases in travel speed. Read more...
Roundabouts are smaller, modified versions of traffic circles or rotaries which have been used in Europe for decades and to a lesser extent, in the New England states. Roundabouts require drivers to yield on entry to vehicles already in the roundabout. Modern roundabouts are specifically designed to induce speed reductions as vehicles approach and enter. They require clear signage and pavement markings. Roundabouts are proving to be safe, effective and efficient alternatives to signalized or stop sign controlled intersections and their use is expanding rapidly. There are at least 22 in the OKI region and several others are in the design phase. Local jurisdictions are considering them as a cost-effective alternative to signalized intersections.
Continuous Flow Intersections
Continuous Flow Intersections (CFIs) can drastically increase the vehicular stream of traffic through an at-grade intersection. This is done by shifting left-turning vehicles approaching the intersection to the left of the oncoming traffic lanes through the use of a signal-controlled cross-over lane placed several hundred feet in advance of the intersection. By removing all potential conflict points with the oncoming through traffic, left-turning vehicles from both approaches can move on the same green signal as the associated through traffic. The reduction of signal phases from four to two drastically increases efficiency and speed while also reducing air pollution and fuel consumption. Read more...
Single-Point Urban Interchanges
Single-Point Urban Interchanges (SPUIs) are a variant of the conventional diamond highway interchange. SPUIs result in two signalized intersections at the points where the entrance and exit ramps meet with the cross street. Due to the relative close spacing of such intersections, efficient signal timing is often difficult to achieve. This problem is eliminated by SPUIs through the creation of one large intersection, either directly above or below the freeway. This intersection design creates a situation where drivers are only faced with cross-street traffic and either exiting roadway or entering left-turning vehicles. The exiting right-turning vehicles are accommodated on separate free-flowing ramp segments. Efficiencies are achieved because paired left-turn movements can be accommodated simultaneously and the signal phasing can be reduced from four to three phases allowing more green time for each phase.
Transportation Demand Management Roadway Strategies
Transportation Demand Management Roadway Strategies (TDM) focus on changing travel behavior to mitigate traffic congestion in lieu of building infrastructure to accommodate travel needs. More specifically, TDM strategies encourage using alternatives to SOV travel and shifting trips out of peak travel periods or even eliminating some trips all together. Two travel demand strategies which are in use in other parts of the United States, but have yet to be implemented in the OKI region follow:
- Congestion PricingCongestion PricingUnder congestion pricing, motorists pay for the use of certain roads and bridges. Motorists may face usage fee schedules ranging from peak-only fees to fees that vary by time of day, facility or level of use. Congestion pricing provides incentives for travelers to take congestion costs into account when making trip decisions, thus leading to more efficient use of facilities and avoiding construction of expensive infrastructure to provide new capacity. Typically, pricing mechanisms involve a toll for using a specific road or bridge or a fee for entering a congested area. Electronic toll collection systems can make use of pre-paid accounts or periodic billing. By inducing even small reductions in a facility’s peak traffic volumes, congestion pricing can reduce delays, increase travel speeds, and contribute to the other benefits associated with reduced congestion, such as lowered vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. In addition, congestion pricing enhances the appeal of using SOV alternatives, can be used to generate revenues and can help maintain traffic flows over time and thus sustain the benefits of capacity improvements or eliminate the need for new construction.
- High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) LanesHOV LanesHOV lanes are intended to encourage the use of buses, carpools and vanpools. On facilities dedicated to their exclusive use, transit and rideshare vehicles can travel at faster speeds than they would in mixed traffic. The HOV facilities induce commuters with long work trips, of 15 to 30 miles or more with a minimum time savings of 10 minutes, to switch from SOV to HOV modes. An HOV lane may be constructed as a separate roadway or it may be added to or removed from an existing roadway. On an existing facility, the HOV lane may be physically separated from adjacent lanes by barriers or it may be designated by signs, pavement markers or other means. In some cases, the same HOV lane accommodates both inbound and outbound traffic by having its direction reversed for morning and afternoon peak hours. Investments for enforcement are required for HOV lanes and, in the case of reversible HOV, significant investments in operations and safety. In addition to lanes, other facilities that support HOV use include metered ramps or bypass lanes that give buses and rideshare vehicles priority access onto interstate highways. For individuals, the HOV lane provides shorter and more predictable travel times than those experienced under congested conditions. In addition to actual time savings, the perception of time savings is valuable.
Active Traffic Demand Management
Active Traffic Demand Management (ATDM) is a collection of techniques that provides both operational improvements and temporary capacity enhancements without adding new lanes to freeways. ATDM applications or strategies can be used in concert with other applications to provide spot improvements as well as overall corridor benefits. ATDM systems use a variety of sensors, as well as human operators at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to collect traffic data which would be processed and used to activate various roadside systems in near real‐time to dynamically manage traffic based on prevailing conditions. Numerous types of ATDM strategies may be considered including:
- Dynamic Ramp Metering
- Hard Shoulder Running – Buses
- Hard Shoulder Running – Mixed traffic
- High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes
- Truck Only Lanes
- Contra Flow Lanes
- Choice Lanes
- Dynamic Merge Control
- Dynamic Lane Assignment
- Variable Speed Limit/Speed Harmonization
- Queue Warning
New or Expanded Roadway Capacity Improvements
The OKI Congestion Management Program offers options most suitable for locations identified as congested. However, an unacceptable level of congestion will remain in some areas due to deficiencies in roadway capacity. These are areas where new or expanded roadway capacity is needed. Projects that add capacity are required to be specifically identified and subject to air quality conformity analysis. This Plan has identified a limited number of roadway improvement projects for addressing mobility through and within the region on proposed new or expanded roadway facilities.
Emerging Roadway Transportation Technologies
For several years automotive and technology companies have been creating and testing technologies that hold great promise in the field of vehicle travel. Several private companies have already successfully demonstrated the promise of vehicles traveling under their own control on city streets and country roads. This is generally referred to as connected and autonomous vehicle technology. Vehicles and infrastructure continually communicate with each other to optimize roadway utilization, potentially saving billions in future infrastructure expansion and significantly improvingof travelers. This could occur in the form of higher travel speeds with less space between vehicles thus increasing the roadway capacity. Ethical, legal and public acceptance and public policy are issues that need to be considered. OKI will continue to remain informed on these technologies to ensure the agency’s transportation planning efforts and funding investments are wisely invested to result in the greatest public good.