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Traffic Studies for Implementing Short-Term and Long-Range Roadway Improvements

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Instructor Information: James W. Ellison, P.E.

Course Length: 1.5 Hours

This webinar was co-sponsored by ASCE's Transportation and Development Institute and ASCE Continuing Education

Purpose and Background

A traffic study is a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of pertinent physical and operational data that serves as an important basis for deciding upon the implementation of short-term and long-range improvements to streets and highways.

This webinar will focus on the primary types and uses of traffic studies, when they are required or recommended, and the various elements that should be considered for inclusion in a traffic study.

A traffic engineering study, within the context of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), is often conducted for the purpose of deciding upon the applicability, design, operation or installation of a traffic control device. In many instances, the MUTCD requires or recommends that an engineering study be conducted, such as in determining the most appropriate form of traffic control for an intersection. A signal warrant analysis or an analysis on whether to install a multiway stop are examples of a traffic engineering study. The study is a tool used to apply the principles of the MUTCD, and to provide recommendations on possible actions that can be implemented to enhance the safety or operation of a roadway location.

Traffic studies also play an integral role in the scoping and development of proposed roadway improvement projects. A traffic design study provides important input into a project design report through its analysis of existing and projected traffic conditions that can then support decisions involving the number and configuration of traffic lanes, traffic control, design speed, speed limit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, access management, and roadside barrier.

When concerns are raised over the safety or operation of an existing roadway location, a traffic study serves as an effective way of systematically conducting an analysis of the site, and providing a data-driven basis for the decision-making process regarding any recommended action.

The presentation will include a discussion of the types of traffic field data that are recommended for compilation and analysis as a part of a traffic study, various analysis techniques, and ideas and resources for developing a standard format for agency traffic studies.

Also included will be the role which traffic studies can play in the area of tort liability issues and in managing risk for an agency’s roadway system. Suggestions on effective report writing and on avoiding certain potentially incriminating words, phrases, and descriptions will be provided.

This webinar will not cover traffic impact analyses that are conducted for the review and assessment of potential development traffic impacts. A separate ASCE webinar, “Traffic Impact Studies,” is available.

Learning Outcomes

You will learn how traffic studies and their data-driven analysis can be used to support the: Decision-making process in the planning and design of roadway improvement projects; selection and use of traffic control devices; and implementation of short-term and long-range safety and operational improvements. You will also become aware of common types of traffic field data, analysis techniques, useful references, and a suggested standard report format.

Webinar Benefits

  • Become familiar with the primary types of traffic studies and how they are used
  • Learn when traffic studies are required or recommended
  • Be aware of collected and compiled field data useful for traffic studies
  • Become knowledgeable about various analysis techniques
  • Learn about the common key report elements and a standardized report format
  • Become familiar with the role traffic studies play in tort liability issues
  • Learn what to avoid when preparing a traffic study report

Intended Audience

Engineers and technicians who are involved in developing recommendations or deciding upon the applicability, design, operation or installation of traffic control devices or in the planning, design, and construction of roadway improvements will benefit from this webinar. This would include consultants responsible for the design of new or reconstructed roadways, or for the study of safety and operations of existing roadways, as well as state highway, city public works, and county road personnel and others having responsibility for the design, maintenance and operation of streets and highways.

Webinar Outline

  • Primary types and uses of traffic studies
  • When a study is required or recommended
  • Traffic studies for use in project design reports
  • Traffic studies for complying with the principles of the MUTCD
  • Traffic studies for safety and operations purposes
  • Field data collection for traffic studies
  • The role of traffic studies in tort liability issues
  • Use of appropriate wording in traffic study reports
  • Useful references and suggested report formats