Worcester Polytechnic Institute Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection

Title page for ETD etd-041110-133608

Document Typedissertation
Author NameConron, Christine Elizabeth
TitleDEVELOPMENT OF A PERFORMANCE-BASED HIGHWAY DESIGN PROCESS: Incorporating Safety Considertation into Highway Design
DepartmentCivil & Environmental Engineering
  • Dr. Malcolm H. Ray, Advisor
  • Dr. Guillermo Salazar, Co-Advisor
  • Dr. Roberto Pietroforte, Co-Advisor
  • Dr. Joseph Petruccelli, Co-Advisor
  • Dr. Tahar El-Korchi, Department Head
  • Keywords
  • highway safety
  • proformanced based
  • highway design
  • Date of Presentation/Defense2010-04-01
    Availability unrestricted


    For nearly 100 years the design of highways has incorporated safety through the application of criteria to each individual design element. Design elements are items like the horizontal curve, vertical curves, the cross-section, clear zone and roadside slopes. As a result, safety is only indirectly addressed since the design elements are developed in isolation without a good understanding on the impact of one element on another. To make matters worse, design elements communicate messages to the driver about the appropriate speed for the highway. Long straight tangent sections encourage drivers to drive faster whereas curved highway segments communicate a lower operating speed. This can lead to inconsistent message to the driver when design elements are not coordinated with each other. A new method is proposed that accounts for the interaction between design elements in such a way that the designer can estimate the frequency and societal cost of motor vehicle crashes. With this estimate of cost, the designer can base design decisions on what would minimize the societal cost of both the infrastructure improvement and safety. This method will allow designers to formulate highway designs that achieve a specific level of safety and communicate consistent information to drivers. This research provides a valuable planning and design tool for practitioners and policy makers alike. It represents an important shift in the highway design paradigm.

  • cconron_extra_file.xlsx
  • cconron_phd.pdf

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