Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The "Show Me the Passing Lane" State

European passing lane, from

The Associated Press is reporting that the State of Missouri is getting ready to try an experiment with one of its highways. The state's chief highway engineer, Kevin Keith, saw the way that many European countries have implemented the concept of a passing lane. Unlike in the United States, where only the occasional passing lane is built, Europe builds three-lane highways for many of its non-controlled access roads. The idea is that the middle lane alternates every mile or so as a passing lane for each side of the roadway. This will allow the highway to carry nearly as much traffic comfortably, as a four-lane highway.

The experiment will be first played out on Missouri Highway 5 between the towns of Lebanon and Camdenton, a stretch of about 16-miles. This highway connects the popular tourist destination, The Lake of the Ozarks, to Interstate 44, the main highway from St. Louis to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, and Wichita Falls. The cost of upgrading the highway is estimated at $50-million dollars.

Traffic engineers at The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is closely watching the MoDOT project, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. If it proves as successful and safe here as in Europe, you may soon see this concept in highway design coming to a road near you.

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