Tradeoffs among Free-flow Speed, Capacity, Cost, and Environmental Footprint in Highway Design
This paper investigates differentiated design standards as a source of capacity additions that are more affordable and have smaller aesthetic and environmental impacts than modern expressways. We consider several tradeoffs, including narrow versus wide lanes and shoulders on an expressway of a given total width, and high-speed expressway versus lower-speed arterial. We quantify the situations in which off-peak traffic is sufficiently great to make it worthwhile to spend more on construction, or to give up some capacity, in order to provide very high off-peak speeds even if peak speeds are limited by congestion. We also consider the implications of differing accident rates. The results support expanding the range of highway designs that are considered when adding capacity to ameliorate urban road congestion.