Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Engineering

Department

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Nikiforos Stamatiadis

Abstract

One of the significant weaknesses of the design speed concept is that it uses the design speed of the most restrictive geometric element as the design speed of the entire road. This leads to potential inconsistencies among successive sections of a road. Previous studies documented that a uniform design speed does not guarantee consistency on rural two-lane facilities. It is therefore reasonable to assume that similar inconsistencies could be found on rural four-lane non-freeway highways. The operating speed-based method is popularly used in other countries for examining design consistency. Numerous studies have been completed on rural two-lane highways for predicting operating speeds. However, little is known for rural four-lane non-freeway highways. This study aims to develop operating speed prediction models for horizontal curves on rural four-lane non-freeway highways using 74 horizontal curves. The data analysis showed that the operating speeds in each direction of travel had no statistical differences. However, the operating speeds on inside and outside lanes were significantly different. On each of the two lanes, the operating speeds at the beginning, middle, and ending points of the curve were statistically the same. The relationships between operating speed and design speed for inside and outside lanes were different. For the inside lane, the operating speed was statistically equal to the design speed. By contrary, for the outside lane, the operating speed was significantly lower than the design speed. However, the relationships between operating speed and posted speed limit for both inside and outside lanes were similar. It was found that the operating speed was higher than the posted speed limit. Two models were developed for predicting operating speed, since the operating speeds on inside and outside lanes were different. For the inside lane, the significant factors are: shoulder type, median type, pavement type, approaching section grade, and curve length. For the outside lane, the factors included shoulder type, median type, approaching section grade, curve length, curve radius and presence of approaching curve. These factors indicate that the curve itself does mainly influence the drivers speed choice.

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