Investigation of Alternative Work Zone Merging Sign ConfigurationsAuthor/Presenter: Edara, Praveen; Zhu, Zhongyuan (Eric); Sun, Carlos
This study investigated the effect of an alternative merge sign configuration within a freeway work zone. In this alternative configuration, the graphical lane closed sign from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was compared with a MERGE/arrow sign on one side and a RIGHT LANE CLOSED sign on the other side. The study measured driver behavior characteristics including speeds and open lane occupancies. The measurements were taken at two identical work zones on Interstate-70 in Missouri, one with the new test sign and the other with the standard MUTCD sign. The study found that the open lane occupancy upstream of the merge sign was higher for the test sign in comparison to the MUTCD sign. Occupancy values at different distances between the merge sign and the taper were similar for both signs. The test sign had 11% more traffic in the open lane upstream of the merge sign. In terms of safety, it is desirable for vehicles to occupy the open lane as far upstream from the taper as possible to avoid conflicts due to the lane drop. Thus, the test sign proved to be a good alternative to the MUTCD sign. The analysis of speed characteristics did not reveal substantial differences between the two sign configurations. The 85th percentile speeds with the MUTCD sign were 1 mph and 2 mph lower than the test sign at the merge sign and taper locations, respectively.