The National Academies

TCRP A-05 [Completed]

Integration of Light Rail Transit into City Streets

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Korve Engineering, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Hans W. Korve
Effective Date: 3/1/1994
Completion Date: 12/31/1995

The product of this research addresses the safety and operating experience of light rail transit (LRT) systems operating on shared right of way at speeds generally under 35 mph. "Shared right of way" refers to LRT operations on, adjacent to, or across city streets; it does not include LRT operations on exclusive or grade-separated right of way. The final report proposes a standard classification system for various LRT alignments, proposes LRT planning guidelines, and proposes standard LRT-related traffic-control devices in the format of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The objective of this research was to improve safety for LRT passengers, motorists, and pedestrians by identifying effective traffic-control devices, public education techniques, and enforcement techniques. To achieve the project objectives, the research agency visited 10 North American cities with LRT systems: Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Los Angeles, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. An inventory of LRT alignments, traffic-control devices, and accident experiences was assembled. Measures of effectiveness were identified, and methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of traffic-engineering treatments for LRT systems were developed. LRT accident data were related to the alignment and the traffic-control devices in use at the accident site to develop guidelines for selection of LRT alignments and for LRT-related traffic-control devices. The report also identifies effective enforcement and public-safety educational techniques that have been employed by various LRT operating agencies.

The principal findings of the study are (1) LRT system design should respect and adapt to the existing urban environment; (2) LRT system design should comply with motorist and pedestrian expectations; (3) decisions by motorists and pedestrians who interact with the LRT should be kept as simple as possible; (4) traffic-control devices related to LRT operations should clearly communicate the level of risk associated with the LRT system; and (5) LRT system design should provide recovery opportunities for erratic motor vehicle and pedestrian movements. The recommendations from this project have been provided to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for possible inclusion in the next update of the MUTCD.

The study findings are available in TCRP Report 17, "Integration of Light Rail Transit into City Streets." The report will help lay the groundwork for establishing nationwide standards for LRT-related traffic-control devices. TCRP Report 17 is also available in portable document format (PDF). (A free copy of Adobe Acrobat reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.) Double-click on the links below to access the report.

Front Matter; Chapter 1: Introduction and Research Approach

Chapter 2: System Safety and Operating Experience

Chapter 3: Application Guidelines; Chapter 4: Potential Methodologies for Evaluating Traffic Engineering Treatments; Chapter 5: Conclusions

Appendix A1: Suggested Changes and Additions [to MUTCD] Pertaining to Light Rail Grade Crossings

Appendix A2: Comparison Between Manuals; Appendix B: Literature Review; Appendix C: Survey Log

Appendix D: Detailed LRT System Descriptions; Appendix E: Detailed Description of Traffic Control Systems; Appendix F: Comparison with Findings of ITE Technical Committee 6Y-37; Appendix G: Accident Analysis Examples and Details

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