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Montana Rest Area Usage: Data Acquisition and Usage Estimation

Project #: 4W2675
Start Date: 07/07/2009
End Date: 02/28/2011

Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) evidence suggests that rest areas located along lower volume rural roadways receive higher volumes of vehicles/patrons owing to fewer opportunities to stop elsewhere. These sites receive different volumes of traffic than those accounted for by AASHTO’s guidance, and, as a result, the prediction of sizing and usage is difficult based on the provided criteria. Subsequently, MDT’s concern is to avoid over-designing a facility where usage may be lower than the norm in order to make the best use of scarce financial resources. Conversely, there is also the concern of under-designing a facility, requiring costly renovations and expansion at a future date. Finally, MDT would also like to predict and track the expected life of rest area facilities based on asset management processes, which require extensive amounts of usage data. As a result of these concerns and needs, research is necessary to refine the figures employed in the estimation of Montana rest area use. In particular, it is necessary to obtain Montana-specific figures related to water flow, pedestrian traffic, vehicle traffic counts and classifications, and vehicle dwell times for trucks and smaller vehicles. This information will subsequently provide MDT with up-to-date figures that may be employed in usage estimation for rest area design and rehabilitation activities. The use of specific figures obtained in Montana will facilitate fiscally sound decision making through the avoidance of facility over or under design.


The objective of this research is to develop Montana-specific rest area usage guidelines with respect to water usage and traffic (vehicle, patrons) in order to supplement, replace and /or confirm current practices for rest area site selection, design and facilities management.

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