U.S. Roads & Highways Remain Central to Mobility’s Future
In addition to passengers, the region’s roadways carry freight cargo, public transportation, as well as support bicycle travel. Roadways will remain the primary means for the region’s travel needs, while we find ways to reduce vehicle miles and hours traveled. The goal: reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Region Roadway Network
The OKI region has more than 12,000 miles of roadways, which transport both passengers and goods via private automobile, taxi, bus, bicycle and truck. This amounts to traveling about 50 million vehicle miles a day.
National Highway System
The core of the roadway network is this region’s component of the National Highway System (NHS). There are 678 miles of the NHS carrying more than half of the daily traffic within the OKI region.
The NHS within the OKI region includes: I-71; I-74; I-75; I-275; I-471; US 27 (in Ohio, north of I-74); In Kentucky, between the Ohio state line and I-471 in Southgate and between I-471 in Highland Heights and SR 9); KY 8 (between I-71/75 and I-471); KY 9 (the AA Highway) in Kentucky; SR 4 (north of I-75); SR 32 (east of I-275); SR 125; SR 126 (Ronald Reagan Highway); SR 129 (Butler County Veterans Highway); and SR 562 (Norwood Lateral) in Ohio.
At the other end of the roadway network spectrum are scenic byways. These distinct and diverse roadways strengthen the tourist industry’s contribution to the region’s economy. Scenic routes are valued and even designated for driving pleasure. Moreover, these routes help preserve communities and the surrounding countryside.
Five scenic byways exist within the OKI region:
- Ohio River Scenic Byway in Indiana
- Ohio River Scenic Route in Ohio
- Accommodation Line Scenic Byway
- Big Bone Lick – Middle Creek Scenic Byway
- Riverboat Row Scenic Byway
Strategies to Address Existing Roadway Needs
A number of strategies for improving mobility, connectivity, congestion and safety are available options. These should be explored before recommending new or expanded roadway facilities, due to financial, environmental and social impacts.
This plan has identified a number of roadway improvement projects for addressing mobility through and within the region on existing roadways. Operation and maintenance projects (O&M) are not specifically identified in this plan. However, they are consistent with the goals of the 2050 Plan.
Preservation and Rehabilitation
The 12,000-plus miles of the region’s roadway are expected to continue to provide service throughout the life of the 2050 Plan. Reconstruction projects are needed to preserve and maintain the roadway system. This plan gives funding priority to system preservation and allocates a sizeable portion of available revenues to this purpose.
Regardless of the type of roadway facility, operational improvements can enhance the mobility and safety of travelers in the OKI region. Most improvements can be made relatively quickly and at lower costs than capacity projects. Many of the plan’s recommended roadway projects incorporate operational improvements as a means of addressing mobility, congestion and safety needs. This includes such measures as restriping for bike lanes, crosswalks near transit stops, and filling in existing sidewalk gaps.
Several operational improvements already have been implemented throughout the OKI region, including:
Access Management involves the design, operation and location of driveway and street connections onto a roadway. Control is achieved by public plans or policies aimed at preserving the functional integrity of the existing roadway system.
Access management is fundamental to preventing the mobility and safety problems caused by multiple curb cuts and traffic signals. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the application of access management techniques can increase both travel speeds and crashes by as much as 50 percent.
By enabling roadways to perform more efficiently, access management increases roadway capacity that may reduce the need for expansion projects; and it could help preserve and maintain the existing infrastructure.
Signalization is often an effective means of improving traffic flow in developed corridors. Since computerized traffic signal systems were introduced in the late 1970s, options have increased for reducing congestion by applying and coordinating progressive signal systems — as exemplified by closed loop systems.
On a corridor, area-wide or multi-jurisdictional basis, centralized networks may involve hundreds of signalized intersections. The benefits of improved signal systems are commonly measured by reductions in travel time, vehicle stops, delay, fuel consumption, emissions and increases in travel speed.
Roundabouts are smaller, modified versions of traffic circles or rotaries. They have been used in Europe for decades, and, to a lesser extent, in the New England states. Roundabouts require drivers to yield on entry to vehicles already in the roundabout. Modern roundabouts are specifically designed to induce speed reductions as vehicles approach and enter.
Roundabouts require clear signage and pavement markings. They are proving to be safe, effective and efficient alternatives to signalized or stop sign-controlled intersections. And their use is expanding rapidly. There are at least 37 in the OKI region, and several others are in the design phase. Local jurisdictions are considering them as a cost-effective alternative to signalized intersections.
Continuous Flow Intersections
Continuous Flow Intersections (CFIs) can drastically increase the vehicular stream of traffic through an at-grade intersection. This is done by shifting left-turning vehicles approaching the intersection to the left of the oncoming traffic lanes through the use of a signal-controlled cross-over lane placed several hundred feet in advance of the intersection.
By removing all potential conflict points with the oncoming through traffic, left-turning vehicles from both approaches can move on the same green signal as the associated through traffic. The reduction of signal phases from four to two drastically increases efficiency and speed. It also reduces air pollution and fuel consumption. In 2017, Anderson Township completed a CFI at the intersection of Beechmont Avenue and Five Mile Road.
Single-Point Urban Interchanges
Single-Point Urban Interchanges (SPUIs) are a variant of the conventional diamond highway interchange. SPUIs result in two signalized intersections at the points where the entrance and exit ramps meet with the cross street. Due to the relative close spacing of such intersections, efficient signal timing is often difficult to achieve. This problem is eliminated by SPUIs through the creation of one large intersection, either directly above or below the freeway.
This intersection design creates a situation where drivers are only faced with cross-street traffic, and either exiting roadway or entering left-turning vehicles. The exiting right-turning vehicles are accommodated on separate free-flowing ramp segments. Efficiencies are achieved because paired left-turn movements can be accommodated simultaneously, and the signal phasing can be reduced from four to three phases, allowing more green time for each phase.
The KY 18 and KY 237 interchange in Boone County is a local example of a SPUI.
Transportation Demand Management Roadway Strategies
Active Traffic Demand Management (ATDM) is a collection of techniques that provides both operational improvements and temporary capacity enhancements without adding new lanes to freeways. ATDM applications or strategies can be used in concert with other applications to provide spot improvements as well as overall corridor benefits.
ATDM systems use a variety of sensors and human operators at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to collect traffic data. This data can be processed and used to activate roadside systems in near real‐time, which then dynamically manage traffic based on prevailing conditions.
Numerous types of ATDM strategies may be considered including:
- Dynamic Ramp Metering
- Hard Shoulder Running
- High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes
- Truck Only Lanes
- Contra Flow Lanes
- Choice Lanes
- Dynamic Merge Control
- Dynamic Lane Assignment
- Variable Speed Limit/Speed Harmonization
- Queue Warning
Transportation Demand Management Roadway Strategies (TDM) focus on changing travel behavior to mitigate traffic congestion in lieu of building infrastructure to accommodate travel needs. Specifically, TDM strategies encourage alternatives to SOV travel and shifting trips out of peak travel periods or even eliminating some trips altogether.
Two travel demand strategies used in other parts of the United States, not yet arrived to the OKI region, are Congestion Pricing and High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes. Congestion pricing adds a surcharge for travel during peak periods or within high congestion locations. HOV lanes are restricted travel lanes reserved for the exclusive use of vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers.
New or Expanded Roadway Capacity Improvements
The OKI Congestion Management Program offers options most suitable for locations identified as congested. However, an unacceptable level of congestion will remain in some areas due to deficiencies in roadway capacity. These are areas where new or expanded roadway capacity is needed. Projects that add capacity are required to be specifically identified and subjected to air quality conformity analysis. This plan has recommended xx projects with new or expanded roadway capacity. (Number of projects missing for now)
Recommended Roadway Projects
Beyond the value of the TIP, this plan includes 162 roadway projects with a cost of $7.9 billion. The cost of these roadway project recommendations accounts for about 88 percent of the plan’s total number of 205 fiscally constrained projects. This cost includes the Brent Spence Bridge project divided by Ohio and Kentucky’s portions. The replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries I-71 and I-75 traffic, is vital to the region’s success and is highly recommended.
The list of recommended roadway projects is fiscally constrained, meaning the expected available funding is sufficient to construct or implement them. (Fiscal constraint is discussed in more detail separately in the Financial Plan.) The plan’s fiscally constrained roadway projects include a total of 198 additional lane miles throughout the region. A breakdown of recommended roadway improvements by project type is listed below.