A new Active Traffic Management strategy called Hard Shoulder Running (HSR) is planned for the I-670 and I-270 corridor in Columbus. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) HSR pilot project is aimed at improving traffic flow in this area during the afternoon peak hours. B&N is leading a team to design and implement the HSR and additional modifications to the existing interchange.
Hard Shoulder Running
HSR uses the shoulder to provide an additional lane during peak travel hours. This approach is less expensive than other options, such as road widening, because it uses the existing roadway infrastructure. Currently, there are only 11 active HSR corridors in the United States.
ODOT’s HSR pilot project – the SmartLane project – includes seven miles of I-670 connecting downtown Columbus to the I-270 outerbelt. The left shoulder on this section of I-670 will be converted for use during the PM Peak traffic period. It will remain open during this fixed period of operation each day and will revert back to its normal function outside of the established hours.
Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology, including 11 Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) and 46 Closed Circuit TVs, will be used to communicate with the Traffic Management Center (TMC). The TMC personnel will monitor the SmartLane system, including DMS messages, to inform motorists of changes in lane usage and variable speed limits. This will help harmonize the speeds across all lanes to improve traffic flow and safety.
During the project planning phase, B&N coordinated with ODOT to complete a thorough safety analysis of the SmartLane corridor. The team carefully analyzed the potential impact of using the shoulder during peak congestion periods on roadway operations and motorist safety.
Before the capacity improvements from the SmartLane project can be fully realized, modifications must be made to fix the current bottleneck on I-670 at I-270. The weave segment along I-270 north, immediately north of the interchange, operates poorly and causes traffic to back up into the interchange and the I-670 corridor. To resolve this, problematic weaving movements will be eliminated by braiding critical ramps in the interchange which will help improve traffic flow and safety issues.
The modifications also will include a new lane through the center of the interchange that begins where the SmartLane ends. By adding this lane, drivers in the SmartLane will not be forced to merge into the general purpose lane and traffic will flow freely into the interchange.
Accelerating Congestion Relief
As the lead firm, B&N completed a 1,400-sheet plan set for nine miles of roadway widening, a system interchange modification and design of nine massive overhead gantries and DMS signs in less than nine months. B&N helped meet ODOT’s compressed timeframe for the SmartLane project so construction could begin in the summer of 2018.