U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Examples of Strategies Employed in Madison
✓Provided designers access to
truck training simulators and
"ride-alongs" to gain a driver's
perspective with respect
to maneuvering through a
Figure 1: Oversize truck entering a roundabout
designed to accommodate OSOW vehicles
✓Outreach is most effective when it begins
early in the process.
Figure 3: OSOW roundabout design drawing
|In Wisconsin, as both freight truck traffic and the number of roundabouts increased, so did the need for better partnership among stakeholders.|
Roundabout intersections are purposely designed to improve safety and efficiency through a combination of geometry and traffic control that results in reduced speeds and minimal delay. However, when the geometry does not adequately accommodate the needs of trucks and freight, unexpected complications can result. Working together, road agencies, freight company owners, and truck operators can strategically improve both the design of roundabouts and the ability of drivers to navigate them.
Positioned between two major freight generating metropolitan regions—Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul—the State of Wisconsin plays an important role in national and regional interstate commerce. Much of the state's freight traffic is considered "pass-through" (i.e., neither its origin nor destination is in the state). Nearly 76 percent of the goods moving throughout Wisconsin are shipped by trucks. An important and growing category of truck traffic in the state consists of oversize/overweight (OSOW) loads, which have unique characteristics that set them apart from conventional trucks.
|Figure 2: Roundabout with OSOW features.
Enhancing freight mobility is a top priority of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). As Wisconsin businesses and consumers rely on a transportation system that allows freight to move in a safe and efficient manner, it is important that WisDOT respond to the needs of freight carriers. Accordingly, WisDOT's long-range transportation plan, Connections 2030, includes a key policy linked to economic growth: partner with stakeholders to ensure that freight movements are safe and reliable and provide positive environmental and community impacts.
The emphasis on safety is taken seriously by WisDOT, and this is reflected in the Wisconsin Strategic Highway Safety Plan (2011-2013) (SHSP), which presents a "Zero Deaths" vision and stresses the importance of partnerships as the key to success in saving lives and preventing injuries. With intersections representing 26 percent of statewide traffic fatalities and 49 percent of non-fatal traffic injuries, the SHSP identifies "improving the design and operation of intersections" as one of the Highest Priority Issue Areas. Among several strategies for addressing this issue is to "increase the number of roundabout installations," which WisDOT has done faithfully, in the process becoming a national leader.
The combination of freight traffic growth, particularly the OSOW vehicles, and an increasing number of roundabouts along the state trunk highway network has led to a rare opportunity to collaborate with freight stakeholders on the design parameters and implementation process for these intersections.
To gain a better understanding of the issues, WisDOT's Freight Operations section used consultants to develop a program of regular outreach to key freight transportation entities in the state. This effort was modeled on past successful outreach experiences and it was structured as a cooperative endeavor between the State DOT and freight community. The WisDOT Freight Operations consultant team obtained and incorporated industry input into design parameters and processes for roundabouts. At the same time, WisDOT was able to provide insight to trucking representatives on how roundabouts factored in to a safer highway system for all users.
While WisDOT initially envisioned a program of outreach from the DOT to the freight community, the effort actually evolved into an effective means of two-way communication. The meetings resulted in a mutual understanding of the issues WisDOT and stakeholders face, some shared and some not. The discussions helped to identify, define, and prioritize the concerns with the understanding that solutions may require compromise by one or more parties. Some of the issues are summarized in the table below.
|Shared Goals||WisDOT Objectives||Freight/Trucking Industry Objectives|
The public-private partnership has provided ample opportunities for stakeholder groups to address concerns, clarify misconceptions, and educate one another. This improved ability to work together to promote common goals has resulted in roundabouts that serve the freight and trucking industries better while still helping to achieve statewide intersection safety goals.
The WisDOT Freight Operations consultant team's outreach program has successfully demonstrated how cooperative efforts between WisDOT and the freight industry can result in better intersection designs, and has expanded discussions beyond roundabouts. For example, at a meeting with specialized carriers that focused on OSOW issues, the WisDOT Freight Operations consultant team discovered that it would be beneficial to define an "OSOW freight network" to help identify intersections where additional considerations for OSOW vehicles are needed, such as modified truck aprons or removable sign post assemblies.
The outreach program has also identified driver education and instruction needs. A particular roundabout near a distribution center had an unusual incidence of loads shifting as trucks traveled through the roundabout. Thes Freight Operations consultant team met with stakeholders at the distribution center to discuss this issue and found that the shifting load incidents had some common sources, including incomplete driver training and improper methods of securing cargo. As a result of the meeting, the freight stakeholders identified training needs and implemented solutions accordingly. This eliminated the need to make potentially costly changes to the roundabout.
Freight Operation Program Manager
Freight Operations & Logistics Consultant
Intersections Program Manager
FHWA Office of Safety