Design Speed and Target Speed Norman W. Garrick Lecture 2.2 Street and Highway Design
AASHTO DefinitionDesign Speed A selected speed used to determine the various geometric design features of the road way To understand what design speed is, we need to look into i) how it is selected, iii) what it is used for, and iii) how it is used It is a deceptively complex concept that is essential to parse in order to understand how AASHTO design works
Selecting the Design Speed The assumed design speed should be a logical one with respect to the topography, anticipated operating speed, the adjacent land use, and the functional classification of highway. Except for local streets where speed controls are frequently included intentionally, every effort should be made to use as a high a design speed as practical to attain a desired degree of safety, mobility, and efficiency within the constraints of environment quality, economics, aesthetics, and social or political impacts The selected speed should fit the travel desires and attitude of nearly all drivers that are expected to use a particular facility
What is Design Speed used For? Once the design speed is selected, all of the pertinent highway features should be related to it to obtain a balanced design. Above-minimum design values should be used, where practical. Some design features, such as curvature, superelevation, and sight distance, are directly related to, and vary appreciably with, design speed Other features, are not directly related to design speed, but they do affect vehicle speeds. Therefore, wider lanes, shoulders, and clearances should be considered for higher design speeds
Alignment as 1/R Plot 1/R Curve 1 0.0005 27+00 35+00 22+00 12+00 Station -0.00075 Curve 2
How is Design Speed used in Practice?An Example What is the design speed of the two roads shown? We know that both of these alignments are freeways, therefore most likely have a DS of 60 or 70 mph (lets assume 60 mph for this exercise) Highway A Highway B
How is Design Speed used in Practice?An Example Under the AASHTO procedure, the design speed is used to determine the minimum radius of curvature for the roadway section. For a design speed of 60 mph, the minimum radius of curvature is 1300 ft The designer can then choose to use any radius larger than this value. We can assume that this was the procedure that was applied to these two sections of highway
How is Design Speed used in Practice?An Example In the case of highway A, all the radii used are significantly larger than the minimum. In fact, the smallest radius used is 5,500 ft, using the AASHTO formula; this radius would be equivalent to a design of speed of about 120 mph. We perhaps might not expect an operating speed of 120 mph, but it is clear that this entire section of road could be comfortably traversed by most drivers at speeds well in excess of the design speed. Highway A 10-mile section of alignment 11 curves Maximum Radius = 20,000 ft Minimum Radius = 5,500 ft Average Radius = 10,200 ft
How is Design Speed used in Practice?An Example The alignment for Highway B is quite different: the smallest radius here is 1,432 ft and the average is 4200 ft - less than that the smallest radius for Highway A. But again the result is the same, the operating speed would be higher that would be expected, given the design speed. Highway B 10-mile section of alignment 12 curves Maximum Radius = 11,500 ft Minimum Radius = 1,400 ft Average Radius = 4,200 ft
What does this example tell us about Design Speed? The first question it raises in my mind is whether or not the DS speed process results in a maximum or minimum limit on actually operating speed The second point to notice is that DS approach can produce very different type of facility for the same design speed Highway A Highway B
Is design speed a maximum or a minimum limit? This example illustrates a very important feature of the design speed approach that is not always appreciated by all designers. The design speed sets a minimum level for the potential operating speed on a roadway. This is not a major problem on the two roads that are used as examples here. In both cases we have high-speed freeways where there is no risk of conflict between human activities along the road and the speed of the vehicles on the road. This becomes, however, a big issue when one is designing roads in a context where high speeds affect livability and safety of other road users - including pedestrians.
Is design speed a maximum or a minimum limit? The problem is that the design speed approach gives no guidance to the designer on how to design for an upper limit on speed for a given project. The result is that many newer roads and streets have the look and feel of roads that are designed for 50 or 60 mph, but are sign-posted for 25 or 35 mph.
Variation in design for the same design speed It is important to note that an experienced and knowledgeable designer can use this design speed approach and the technical information in the AASHTO or similar guide to design context appropriate roadways However, the design speed approach does not readily facilitate the development of a context sensitive design solution, and in fact all too often it is used to produce context inappropriate designs
Variation in design for the same design speed In this regard, the design speed approach can be considered to be too flexible – this is illustrated by the two very different design solutions that are represented by Highway A and Highway B. Both highways are designed using more or less the same criteria, but the choices made about the alignments are very different. Of the two roads, Highway A is more continuous, since the discontinuities between curves and tangent sections are not as sharp and the alignment is more curvilinear. Highway A is also more consistent, since all the curves are about the same radii. However, Highway A also has the potential for much higher operating speeds because the curve radii are so large. (The actual operating speeds will depend to some extent on other design factors, such as the vertical alignment and the width.) Highway A Highway B
Controlling maximum speed in design It would seem that the issue of varying operating conditions for the same design speed should be addressed through changes to the concept of design speed and how it is used in the design process In other words, the design procedure must provide an approach to consider both the maximum and minimum desired speed on the roadway. The design speed approach only controls minimum speed on a road segment and gives no guide for controlling maximum speed
The Relevance of the Design Speed Concept The theory or research linking design speed to these various design features is not always clear. One key study, NCHRP 15-18, shows that in urban areas, operating speed is relatively insensitive to geometric characteristics. In rural areas, operating speed is sensitive to radii and grade but less so to other geometric characteristics.
The Problem of Using Design Speed in Urban Areas Under the AASHTO approach to design, the design speed influences the choice of a host of design parameters, and not just alignment design. These include features such as lane-width, shoulder width, median width and the clear zone. Design speed is also used to help decide on whether a specific element should be part of the design for a given roadway. As the design speed increases the scale of these features also tend to increas The problem is that these are the very features that we found in our speed survey that helps to control speed. Therefore, there is a conflict between the DS process and the need to control speeds in most urban and some rural environment
The Problem of Using Design Speed in Urban Areas Based on these and other studies, some have pointed out that design speed is only useful for the design of freeways and other high speed highways The concept of design speed seem to be misapplied when used for urban streets or other streets that should operate in context time Recently the concept of TARGET SPEED has taken hold for design and has been used in such documents as the ITE/CNU manual and the NACTO manual
Target SpeedContext Time versus System Time The idea of target speed is to select an appropriate speed for the context and then to design to ensure that most drivers will chose to go no faster than the target speed For more information on speed and design please click here Target Speed Approach Design Speed Approach
Target SpeedContext Time versus System Time Where should target speed be used? In most urban situations For more information on speed and design please click here Target Speed Approach Design Speed Approach