Restricted Crossings on Rural Highways

Median-divided rural highways have intersections with minor roads that are two-way stop controlled throughout the less populated areas of Nebraska. These crossings of a high-speed road with a low-volume crossing street pose severe safety concerns, as drivers pulling out sometimes misjudge the time available for their maneuver, leading to the types of automobile accidents with the worst outcomes. In all of the cases above, volumes are too low either on the minor approach or on both roads to meet volume criteria for signalization. The state is actively pursuing methods to improve safety such as providing displaced right-turn lanes or signalizing these locations in hopes that signal control may help with the crash patterns observed. In some cases, grade separation is being proposed, a solution that will almost definitely correct the existing crash patterns, but will cost roughly 12-million dollars per treatment. Ultimately, the researchers believe that the State needs to leverage safer and cost-effective at-grade crossing alternatives, such as the restricted crossing u-turn design, to improve safety on our road network while limited expenditures. This study will examine the potential for replacing the standard intersection design at two- and four-way stop control intersections along rural highways with a restricted crossing u-turn facility, prohibiting left- and through-movements from the side road, and providing a u-turn location downstream from the main crossing. This type of facility has been implemented for rural highways in both Maryland and North Carolina, and has the potential to serve as a cost effective solution to resolve safety issues within Nebraska.