Reversible Lanes For Arterials

Reversible lanes are defined as "one or more lanes designated for movement one-way during part of the day and in the opposite direction during another part of the day." The principle is to make use of "unused capacity" in one direction to carry traffic in the other direction. 
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program report NCHRP Synthesis 340 documents the current state of the practice and the history of reversible lane use. Reversible lanes have been in use for more than 70 years. More recently, reversible lanes are being used on freeways in conjunction with HOT and HOV lanes (see Freeway Lane Management​).  Planning, designing, controlling, operating, and enforcement practices vary widely.


NCHRP Synthesis 340
Convertible lanes and roadways encompass a wide variety of facilities on which traffic operations are adjusted at different times to adapt to changing traffic conditions. The modifications might require changes to the direction of flow, the types of vehicles permitted in certain lanes, and the types of maneuvers (through, turning, parking) that are allowed.
NCHRP Synthesis 340

MUTCD Lane Use Control Signals
Lane-use control signals are special overhead signals that permit or prohibit the use of specific lanes of a street or highway or that indicate the impending prohibition of their use. Lane-use control signals are distinguished by placement of special signal faces over a certain lane or lanes of the roadway and by their distinctive shapes and symbols. Supplementary signs are sometimes used to explain their meaning and intent. Lane-use control signals are most commonly used for reversible-lane control, but are also used in nonreversible freeway lane applications.
MUTCD Lane Use Control Signals

ITE Planning and Operational Practices for Reversible Roadways
The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) describes the reverse laning of roadways as "potentially one of the most effective methods of increasing rush-hour capacity of existing streets under the proper conditions." A reversible roadway is one in which the direction of traffic flow in one or more lanes or shoulders is reversed to the opposing direction for some period of time.
Operational Practices for Reversible Roadways.pdfOperational Practices for Reversible Roadways.pdf

Evaluation of Reversible Lanes
A reversible-lane system was implemented on a section of Nicholasville Road (US 27) in Lexington on March 5, 1979. The installation is unique in that left turns are allowed at signalized intersections during operation of the reversible lanes. The objectives of the study were to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing delays and develop recommendations for operational improvements.
Evaluation of Reversible Lanes.pdfEvaluation of Reversible Lanes.pdf

National ITS Architecture Roadway Reversible Lanes
This equipment package includes field elements that monitor and control reversible lane facilities. It includes the traffic sensors, surveillance equipment, lane control signals, physical lane access controls, and other field elements that manage traffic on these facilities. It provides current reversible lane facility status information and accepts requests and control commands from the controlling center.
National ITS Architecture Roadway Reversible Lanes
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