Safety Impacts of the I-35W Improvements Done Under Minnesota's Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) Project
As part of an Urban Partnership Agreement project, the Minnesota Department of Transportation added lanes and began operating a priced dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL) on parts of Interstate 35W. Following the opening of these improvements, the frequency of rear-end crashes increased in certain sections, especially in the PDSL region. The object of this study was to determine if these increases were direct effects of the improvements or were due to changes in traffic conditions. Logistic regression analyses which controlled for changes in traffic conditions indicated no direct effect on the likelihood of rear-end crashes due to operation of the PDSL; the observed change in crash frequency was explained by the change in traffic conditions. This study also found evidence for a nonlinear relationship between a proxy for traffic density, lane occupancy, and the probability of a rear-end crash occurring during an hour. In several sections crashes were most likely when lane occupancies were approximately 20%–30%, and crash likelihood tended to decrease for lane occupancies below and above this range.