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TrafficEng.

IntersectionControl 15 16
AtGradeIntersectionControl

Inthislecture;

1ConceptsofTrafficControl

2ConflictPoints

3TypesofIntersectionControl

4WarrantsofTrafficSignal

The information included in this lecture is largely taken from Traffic and Highway
Engineering(GarberandHoel,2009)andAPolicyonGeometricDesignofHighways
and Streets (AASHTO, 2011) and Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
(MUTCD,2012).

1ConceptsofTrafficControl
Theflowoftrafficonanystreetorhighwayisgreatlyaffectedbytheflowoftraffic
throughtheintersectionpointsonthatstreetorhighwaybecausetheintersection
usuallyperformsatalevel belowthatofanyothersectionoftheroad.
AccordingtoGarberandHoel(2009)andotherresearchers,severaltypesoftraffic
control systems are used to reduce traffic delays and accidents on atgrade
intersections and to increase the capacity of highways and streets. However,
appropriateregulationsmust beenforced ifthesesystemsaretobeeffective.
This lecture describes the different methods of controlling traffic on atgrade
intersections.
Thepurposeoftrafficcontrolistoassign therightofway todriversand
thus to facilitate highway safety by ensuring the orderly and predictable

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movement of all traffic on highways. Control may be achieved by using traffic
signals,signs,ormarkingsthatregulate,guide,warn,and/orchanneltraffic.
Guidelinesfordeterminingwhetheraparticularcontroltypeissuitableforagiven
intersectionareprovidedintheManualonUniformTrafficControlDevices(MUTCD,
2012). To ensure that a trafficcontrol device is effective the MUTCD recommends
thatengineersconsiderthefollowingfivefactors:
1. Design. The device should be designed with a combination of size, color, and
shape that will convey a clear message and command the respect and
attentionofthedriver.
2.Placement.Thedeviceshouldbelocated sothatitiswithintheconeof
vision of the viewer and the driver has adequate response time when driving at
normalspeed.
3.Operation.Thedeviceshouldbeusedinamannerthatensuresthefulfilment
oftrafficrequirementsinaconsistentanduniformway.
4.Maintenance. The device must be regularly maintained to ensure that legibility
issustained .

5. Uniformity. To facilitate the recognition and understanding of these devices by


drivers,similardevicesshouldbeusedatlocationswithsimilartrafficandgeometric
characteristics.

2ConflictPointsatIntersections
Conflictsoccurwhentrafficstreamsmovingindifferentdirectionsinterfere with
each other. The three types of conflicts are merging , diverging , and
crossing . Figure below shows the different conflict points that exist at a four
approachunsignalizedintersection.Thereare32conflictpointsinthiscase.

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Thenumberofpossibleconflictpointsatanyintersectiondependsonthenumber
of approaches, the turning movements, and the type of traffic control at the
intersection. The primary objective in the design of a trafficcontrol system at an
intersectionistoreducethenumberofsignificantconflictpoints.Indesigningsuch
asystem,itisfirstnecessarytoundertakeananalysisoftheturningmovementsat
the intersection which will indicate the significant types of conflicts. Factors that
influence the significance of a conflict include the type of conflict, the number of
vehiclesineachconflictingstream,andthespeedsofthevehiclesinthosestreams.
Crossingconflicts,however,tendtohavethemostsevereeffectontrafficflowand
shouldbereducedtoaminimumwheneverpossible(GarberandHoel,2009).

3TypesofIntersectionControl
Severalmethodsofcontrollingconflictingstreamsofvehiclesatintersectionsarein
use. The choice of one of these methods depends on the type of intersection and
thevolumeoftrafficineachoftheconflictingstreams.Guidelinesfordetermining
whether a particular control type is suitable for a given intersection have been
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developedandaregivenintheMUTCD.Theseguidelinesarepresentedintheform
of warrants , which have to be compared with the traffic and geometric
characteristics at the intersection being considered. The different types of
intersectioncontrolaredescribedhere.
3.1YieldSigns
Alldriversonapproacheswithyieldsignsarerequiredtoslowdownandyieldthe
right of way to all conflicting vehicles at the intersection. Stopping at yield signs is
not mandatory , but drivers are required to stop when necessary to avoid
interferingwithatrafficstreamthathastherightofway.Yieldsignsaretherefore
usuallyplacedonminorroadapproaches,whereitisnecessarytoyieldtherightof
way to the major road traffic. Figure below shows the regulated shape and
dimensionsforayieldsign.Themostsignificantfactorinthewarrantforyieldsigns
is the approach speed on the minor road. This sign is warranted at intersections
where there is a separate or channelized rightturn lane without an adequate
accelerationlane.

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3.2StopSigns
Astopsignisusedwhereanapproachingvehicleisrequiredtostopbeforeentering
theintersection.Figurebelowshowstheregulatedshapeanddimensionsofastop
sign.Stopsignsshouldbeusedonlywhentheyarewarranted,sincetheuseofthese
signs results in considerable inconvenience to motorists. Stop signs should not be
usedatsignalizedintersectionsoronthroughroadwaysofexpressways.

The warrants for stop signs suggest that a stop sign may be used on a minor road
when it intersects a major road, at an unsignalized intersection, and where a
combination of high speed, restricted view, and serious crashes indicates the
necessityforsuchacontrol.
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3.3MultiwayStopSigns
Multiway stop signs require that all vehicles approaching the intersection stop
before entering it. They are used as a safety measure at some intersections and
normally are used when the traffic volumes on all of the approaches are
approximatelyequal.Whentrafficvolumesarehigh,however,theuseofsignalsis
recommended.Theyshouldalsobeconsideredwhenfiveormorecrashesoccurat
an intersection in a 12month period, and these crashes could be avoided with a
multiway stop control. The volume warrants for this control specify that the total
volumeonbothmajorstreetapproachesshouldnotbelessthan300veh/hforany
eight hours of an average day, nor should the combined volume of vehicles and
pedestriansfromtheminorapproachesbelessthan200units/hforthesameeight
hours.Theaveragedelayofthevehiclesontheminorstreetshouldalsobenotless
than30sec/vehduringthemaximumhour.

Theminimumrequirementforvehicularvolumecanbereducedby30percentifthe
85thpercentile approach speed on the major approach is greater than 40 mi/h.
Also, if none of the safety or volume criteria (excluding that for the 30
percentreductionforspeedsof40mi/hormore)isfullymet,buteachsatisfies80
percent of the minimum requirement, the installation of a multiway stop sign is
justified.

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3.4IntersectionChannelization
As explained in the previous lecture, intersection channelization is used mainly to
separateturnlanesfromthroughlanes.Achannelizedintersectionconsistsofsolid
white lines or raised barriers which guide traffic within a lane so that vehicles can
safelypassthroughacomplexintersection.Whenraisedislandsareused,theycan
alsoprovidearefugeforpedestrians.

3.5TrafficSignals
Oneofthemosteffectivewaysofcontrollingtrafficatanintersectionistheuseof
trafficsignals.Trafficsignalscanbeusedtoeliminate manyconflictsbecause
different traffic streams can be assigned the use of the intersection at different
times.Sincethisresultsin adelaytovehiclesinallstreams,itisimportantthat
traffic signals be used only when necessary. The most important factor that
determines the need for traffic signals at a particular intersection is the
intersections approach traffic volume, although other factors such as pedestrian
volumeandcrashexperiencemayalsoplayasignificantrole.

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4WarrantsofTrafficSignals
The Manual on Traffic Signal Design gives the fundamental concepts and standard
practicesusedinthedesignoftrafficsignals.Inaddition,theMUTCDdescribeseight
warrantsindetail,atleastoneofwhichshouldbesatisfiedforanintersectiontobe
signalized. However, these warrants should be considered only as a guide.
Professionaljudgmentbasedonexperiencealsoshouldbeusedtodecidewhether
ornotanintersectionshouldbesignalized.Thefactorsconsideredinthewarrants
are:
Warrant1Eighthourvehicularvolume
Warrant2Fourhourvehicularvolume
Warrant3Peakhour
Warrant4Pedestrianvolume
Warrant5Schoolcrossing
Warrant6Coordinatedsignalsystem
Warrant7Crashexperience
Warrant8Roadwaynetwork
According to MUTCD (2012), a traffic control signal should not be installed unless
oneormoreofthefactorsdescribedinthisChapteraremet.Atrafficcontrolsignal
shouldnotbeinstalledunlessanengineeringstudyindicatesthatinstallingatraffic
control signal will improve the overall safety and/or operation of the intersection.
Also, a traffic control signal should not be installed if it will seriously disrupt
progressive trafficflow.
FollowingisabriefdiscussionofeachofthesewarrantsaccordingtoMUTCD(2012)
andGarberandHoel(2009).
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Warrant1EightHourVehicularVolume
Theneedforatrafficcontrolsignalshallbeconsideredifanengineeringstudyfinds
thatatleastoneofthefollowingconditions(AorB)existforeachofany8hoursof
anaverageday:
Condition A (Minimum Vehicular Volume): This condition is intended for
application at locations where a large volume of intersecting traffic is the
principal reason to consider installing a traffic control signal. The warrant is
satisfied when traffic volumes on the majorstreet and the higher volume minor
streetapproachesforeachofanyeighthoursofanaveragedayareatleastequalto
thevolumesspecifiedinthe100percentcolumnsofTable1A.Anaveragedayisa
weekday whose traffic volumes are normally and repeatedly observed at the
location.

Condition B (Interruption of Continuous Flow): This condition is intended for


application at locations where Condition A is not satisfied and where the traffic
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volume on a major street is so heavy that traffic on a minor intersecting street
suffers excessive delay or conflict in entering or crossing the major street. The
warrant is satisfied when traffic volumes on the majorstreet and on the higher
volumeminorstreetapproachesforeachofanyeighthoursofanaveragedayare
atleastequaltothevolumesspecifiedinthe100percentcolumnsofTable1B.
In applying each condition the majorstreet and minorstreet volumes shall be for
thesame8hours.Ontheminorstreet,thehighervolumeshallnotberequiredto
beonthesameapproachduringeachofthese8hours.
Also,ifbothConditionsAandBarenotsatisfied,andotherremedialactions
havebeentakenwithoutmuchsuccess,the80,70,or56percentcolumnmay

beused,asindictedinTables1.

Warrant2FourHourVehicularVolume
The FourHour Vehicular Volume signal warrant conditions are intended to be
appliedwherethevolumeofintersectingtrafficistheprincipalreasonto consider
installing a traffic control signal. The need for a traffic control signal shall be
considered(warranted)ifanengineeringstudyfindsthat,foreachofany4hoursof
anaverageday,theplottedpointsrepresentingthevehiclesperhouronthemajor
street (total of both approaches) and the corresponding vehicles per hour on the
highervolume minorstreet approach (one direction only) all fall above the
applicablecurveinFigure2(seenextpage)fortheexistingcombinationofapproach
lanes. On the minor street, the higher volume shall not be required to be on the
sameapproachduringeachofthese4hours.
The MUTCD manual suggest using another Figure if the posted speed limit or the
85thpercentilespeedonthemajorstreetexceeds40mph,oriftheintersectionlies

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withinthebuiltup areaofanisolatedcommunityhavingapopulationofless
than10,000.

Warrant3PeakHour
ThePeakHour warrantofinstallationatrafficsignalisintendedforuseat
a location where traffic conditions are such that for a minimum of 1 hour of an
average day result undue delay on the minorstreet traffic when
entering or crossing the major street. This signal warrant shall be applied only in
unusualcases,suchasofficecomplexes ,manufacturingplants ,
industrial complexes, or highoccupancy vehicle facilities that attract or discharge
largenumbersofvehiclesoverashorttime.
Theneedforatrafficcontrolsignalshallbeconsideredifanengineeringstudyfinds
thatthecriteriaineitherofthefollowingtwocategoriesaremet(satisfied):
A. If all three of the following conditions exist for the same 1 hour (any four
consecutive15minuteperiods)ofanaverageday:
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1. Thetotalstoppedtime delayexperienced bythe trafficonone minor
street approach (one direction only) controlled by a STOP sign equals or
exceeds:
4 vehiclehours for a onelane approach or 5 vehiclehours for a twolane
approach;and
2. The volume on the same minorstreet approach (one direction only) equals
or exceeds 100 vehicles per hour for one moving lane of traffic or 150
vehiclesperhourfortwomovinglanes;and
3. The total entering volume serviced during the hour equals or exceeds 650
vehiclesperhourforintersectionswiththreeapproachesor800vehiclesper
hourforintersectionswithfourormoreapproaches.
B. Theplottedpointrepresentingthevehiclesperhouronthemajorstreet(totalof
bothapproaches)andthecorrespondingvehiclesperhouronthehighervolume
minorstreetapproach(onedirectiononly)for1hour(anyfourconsecutive15
minuteperiods)ofanaveragedayfallsabovetheapplicablecurveinFigure3for
theexistingcombinationofapproachlanes.

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Finally, if the posted speed limit or the 85thpercentile speed on the major street
exceeds 40 mph, or if the intersection lies within the builtup area of an isolated
communityhavingapopulationoflessthan10,000, Figure 3B maybeusedinplace
of Figure 3A toevaluatethecriteriainthesecondcategoryoftheStandard.

Warrant4MinimumPedestrianVolume
Thiswarrantissatisfiedwhenthepedestrianvolumecrossingthemajorstreetonan
average day is at least 100 for each of any four hours or 190 or higher during any
onehourandtherearefewerthan60gaps/hrthatareacceptablebypedestriansfor
crossing.
The Pedestrian Volume signal warrant shall not be applied at locations where the
distancetothenearesttrafficcontrolsignalorSTOPsigncontrollingthestreetthat
pedestrians desire to cross is less than 300 feet, unless the proposed traffic
control signal will not restrict the progressive movement of traffic.
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When this warrant is used, the signal should be of the trafficactuated type with
push-buttonsforpedestriancrossing.

Warrant5SchoolCrossing
Thiswarrantisusedwhenthemainreasonforinstallingatrafficsignalcontrolisto
accommodate thecrossingofthemajorstreetbyschoolchildren(elementary
through high school students). When an analysis of gap data at an established
schoolzoneshowsthatthefrequencyofoccurrenceofgapsandthelengthsofgaps
are inadequate for safe crossing of the street by schoolchildren, this warrant is
applied. The standard for satisfying this warrant is that if during the period when
schoolchildrenareusingthecrossing,thenumberofacceptablegapsislessthanthe
number of minutes in that period and there are at least 20 students during the
highestcrossinghour,theuseoftrafficsignalsiswarranted.Inaddition,thenearest
traffic signal along the major street should be located more than 300 ft away or
within 300 ft but the proposed traffic signal will not restrict the progressive
movementoftraffic.
Thesignalinthiscaseshouldbepedestrianactuated.

Warrant6CoordinatedSignalSystem
Progressive movement in a coordinated signal system sometimes justifies
(necessitates)installingtrafficcontrolsignalsatintersectionswheretheywouldnot
otherwise be needed in order to maintain proper platooning of vehicles. For
example,whenadjacenttrafficsignalcontrolsareatlongdistancesfromeachother,
theresultisunfavorableplatooning.
This warrant justifies the installation of traffic lights when such an installation will
help maintain a proper grouping of vehicles and effectively regulate group speed.
Thiswarrantisnotapplicablewhentheresultantspacingofthetrafficsignalwillbe
lessthan1000ft.
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Warrant7CrashExperience
This warrant is used when the purpose of installing a traffic signal control is to
reducethenumberandseverityofcrashesattheintersection.Theneedforatraffic
control signal shall be considered if an engineering study finds that all of the
followingcriteriaaremet:
1. Crash frequency has not been reduced by an adequate trial of less
restrictivemeasures .
2.Fiveormoreinjuryorreportablepropertydamageonlycrashes
have occurred within a 12month period and that signal control is a suitable

countermeasure forthesecrashes.
3. The traffic and pedestrian volumes should not be less than 80 percent of the
requirements specified in the minimum vehicular volume warrant (see Table 1
Condition A), the interruption of continuous traffic warrant (see Table 1
ConditionB),ortheminimumpedestrianvolumewarrant.

Warrant8RoadwayNetwork
Thiswarrantjustifiestheinstallationofsignalsatsomeintersectionswhensuchan
installation will help to encourage concentration and organization of traffic
networks.Theneedforatrafficcontrolsignalshallbeconsideredifanengineering
studyfindsthattheintersectionoftwoormoremajorroutesmeetsoneorbothof
thefollowingcriteria:
1. The total existing or immediately projected entering volume is at least
1000duringthepeakhourofatypicalweekdayand,
The fiveyear projected traffic volumes, based on an engineering study, satisfy the
requirements of the following warrants: Warrant 1 (eighthour vehicular volume),
Warrant2(fourhourvehicularvolume),orWarrant3(peakhourvolume)duringan
averageweekday.

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2.Theintersectionhasatotalexistingorimmediatelyprojectedenteringvolumeof
at least 1,000 vehicles per hour for each of any 5 hours of a nonnormal business
day(forUSA,SaturdayorSunday).
Amajorroute consideredforthiswarrantshouldpossessatleastoneof
thefollowingcharacteristics:
It is a component of a street or highway system that serves as the principal
roadwaynetworkforthroughtrafficflow.
It is a component of a street or highway system that includes rural or suburban
highwaysoutside,entering,ortraversingacity.
It is designated as a major route on an official transportation plan or equivalent
standardplots.

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