Exclusive Lanes for Trucks and Passenger Vehicles on Interstate Highways in Virginia: An Economic Evaluation

Report No: 97-R16

Published in 1997

About the report:

Increases in heavy truck traffic on Virginia's highways in recent years have raised concerns about both safety and capacity, particularly on the interstate system. Transportation agencies have developed a number of strategies for dealing with the impacts on safety and capacity of a truck population that has been increasing in volume and in the percentage of large tractor-trailers. One strategy that has been suggested is separate lanes for trucks and passenger vehicles. A reliable methodology to determine when separate lanes for trucks and passenger vehicles are economically feasible would enable transportation officials to make informed decisions concerning when this approach should be considered and used. This study evaluated a computer program, Exclusive Vehicles Facilities (EVFS), developed by the Federal Highway Administration for determining the economic feasibility of separating trucks and other vehicles on freeway segments. A 50.7-km (31.5-mi) segment of I-81 in Virginia was selected to demonstrate the application of the program. A number of factors contribute to the feasibility of exclusive lanes. Although no single factor predominates, traffic volume, vehicle mix percentage, accident rates, and maintenance and construction costs are given more weight than other factors in the program. Among the program's strengths are its ability to analyze a number of alternatives for a variety of different conditions, its ease of use, and the fact that it can be inexpensively applied. Its weaknesses include its inability to differentiate between the lane(s) (i.e., inside, middle, outside) to which restrictions are applied and its unsuitability for analyzing exclusive lane alternatives in which a barrier is used to separate vehicle types. With respect to I-81, several exclusive lane strategies produced a benefit-cost ratio greater than 1.0 and a net present worth in the millions of dollars. Should I-81 or another high-volume interstate corridor with a large truck percentage be considered for improvement, VDOT should apply EVFS to assist in evaluating the feasibility of exclusive lane alternatives. Since EVFS is designed to perform economic analyses, operational and geometric implications of any exclusive lane strategy should also be considered.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Joseph E. Vidunas, Lester A. Hoel, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 16, 2023

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