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Center for Transportation Studies

Rural Unsignalized Intersections

The Infrastructure Consortium: Intersection Decision Support

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Projects Components - Information


A significant body of research involving the technologies to be further developed over the course of this project has been created at the University of Minnesota. Two of these key Minnesota surveillance technologies are based on radar and machine vision. Vision based intersection and highway surveillance and radar based collision avoidance work have been successfully demonstrated at the University of Minnesota. Advance Collision predictive algorithms, necessary to avoid false (and annoying) warnings to drivers need to be developed. The human-machine interface, critical to the delivery of pertinent information at the proper time, is the key to a successful program. Crashes involving intersections and rail grade level crossings have been studied extensively by University of Minnesota researchers. The work to be undertaken will build directly on these past achievements.

This version of this IDS workplan represents a modification of the original workplan submitted in October 2002. The original workplan is revised for two reasons. The first reason is in response to comments provided by the FHWA regarding the original workplan. The second reason is that contractual issues with Caltrans (the manager of the pooled fund finances) resulted in a delay in the project start date. Because of project deadlines, the workplan had to be restructured to facilitate a February 2005 end date. The Task descriptions and timelines have been modified to accommodate this February 2005 deadline.

In addition to this IDS project, Minnesota is leading a state pooled fund effort with states who experience similar intersection crash problems. The state pooled fund (as described in a separate workplan) will take advantage of the technologies and methodologies developed herein. States participating in the state pooled fund project will have crash statistics analyzed, problematic intersections identified, and a number of problematic intersections instrumented with surveillance equipment so that driver behavior can be quantified at locations throughout the United States. Moreover, traffic engineers from these pooled fund states will participate in the design and evaluation workshops associated with the interface design task (Task B2 below), and provide input necessary for a nationally deployable system.

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The overall objective of the work is to use emerging technology to reduce both the frequency and severity of those crashes that occur at rural intersections. Supporting objectives are to develop a system which is effective in terms of performance and benefit:cost ratios, deployable throughout a wide spectrum of intersections, and easily installed and maintained. The final objective is to make the system robust, reliable, and acceptable (and, desirable) to the general motoring public.


The scope is wide ranging, reaching from applied research into human behavior at intersections, through development of surveillance technologies and collision predictive algorithms, to the design and implementation of an advanced intersection where these systems can be tested and validated. This is truly a multidisiplinary project, involving experimental psychology, economics, traffic engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and computer science. The goal is pragmatic – to develop, design, and demonstrate on an actual intersection, the benefit of this approach to rural intersection collision mitigation.

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The tasks to be completed by 28 February 2005 are described below. The tasks described below capture the essence of the original Minnesota contribution to the original IDS Consortium proposal which was prepared in the Spring of 2001, but are significantly modified. The modifications accommodate both changes suggested by FHWA and Mn/DOT reviewers and changes is project schedules due to contract difficulties.

As noted in the background section above, Minnesota is also leading a separate state pooled fund study as a means to develop a nationally deployable system. Noted in the task descriptions below are comments linking this project to the pooled fund, and vice versa.