The Indiana Department of Transportation is exploring ways it might relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 80/94 in Lake County that could include "travel on inside and/or outside shoulders" at heavy traffic times.
INDOT has issued a Request for Information asking transportation management companies for ideas beyond expanding the eight-lane highway, instead requesting "more limited measures" that could include use of the highway's shoulders, referred to as "hard shoulder running" or "part-time shoulder running."
"I-80/94 is one of the most heavily traveled interstates in the Midwest, a critical national freight corridor," INDOT notes in the RFI. "Present travel demand is approaching carrying capacity of the eight-lane freeway; travel reliability is weak (predictable travel time); incidents (e.g., crashes, disabled vehicles) are frequent and highly disruptive to traffic flow for extended periods of time; and routine maintenance and preservation actions are complex, resource-demanding and compromise traffic capacity and flow."
The highway, known in Lake County as the Borman Expressway, carries an average of 180,000 vehicles per day, according to INDOT, and "heavy trucks generally make up 30% of the daily traffic stream, and 20% of peak-hour traffic." In addition to seasonal variation, the Borman has "unusual peaking characteristics, for instance, Friday and Sunday evenings during certain seasons."
INDOT is asking companies to use standard industry management concepts, including Transportation Systems Management and Operations, Active Traffic Management and Intelligent Transportation Systems, in their analyses.
"INDOT has limited experience with hard shoulder running, therefore is reaching out through this RFI to build up our awareness of the practice, with the possibility of advancing the concept, be it shoulder running or other promising TSMO/ITS/ATM activities, to the next stage of evaluation and development," according to the RFI.
The department is particularly asking for information on other states' use of shoulder-running at particular times of day, including an evaluation of best practices and performance measures, the potential value of shoulder use on an "ultra-high-volume freeway such as I-80/94," the project development process, and variations in design and operation.
Responses to the RFI are due Friday, though will not be made public unless and until a contract is executed for a project. INDOT makes clear in the RFI that it is not committing to any project: "The RFI itself is not a call for professional services or qualifications, but may support such action later."