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Divided Highway Signage: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are Divided Highways? What elements can be used to divide a highway/lane?

A.

A divided highway is a roadway where the lanes going in opposite directions are divided by a physical barrier or medians like a strip of land, grass divide, guard rail, or concrete barrier. Because of the barrier, traffic moves separately on the different highways.

Sometimes, modular concrete or plastics barriers such as Jersey barriers, Jersey walls, or Jersey bumps are used to separate traffic lanes.

Q. What are the advantages of Divided Highways?

A.

Following are some of the advantages of a Divided Highway:

Smooth Traffic Flow: On separate roads, vehicles travel in opposite directions on their side of the road in a very organized manner.

Safety: On divided highways, roads are separated by barriers and all the vehicles are moving in the same direction. Therefore, there is no possibility of head-on collisions between vehicles.

Easy to Detour: It’s easy to close one road when restoration work is underway and detour the traffic. Just close one side of the roadway and operate two-lane, two-way traffic on the opposite side.

Q. Does MUTCD offer any guidelines for installing Divided Highway Signs?

A.

According to Section 2C.22 of MUTCD Chapter 2C, a Divided Highway (W6-1) sign should be installed on the approaches to a section of highway (not an intersection or junction) where a median or other physical barrier separates the opposing flows of traffic. The section also notes that the sign shall not be used instead of a Keep Right (R4-7 series) sign on the approach end of a median island.

A Divided Highway Ends (W6-2) Sign should be used before the end of a section of a physically divided highway.

Q. What is the color and shape required for MUTCD Divided Highway Signs?

A.

MUTCD Divided Highway Signs are covered in Figure 2C-5. W6-1 (Divided Highway) Sign is shown as a yellow diamond-shaped sign. At the top of the sign, a depiction of the plan view of the nose of a traffic island is shown in black. A vertical downward-pointing arrow in black is shown to the left of the island, curving to depict movement to the left of the nose of the island. A vertical upward-pointing arrow in black is shown to the right of the island, curving to depict movement to the right of the nose of the island.

Similarly, W6-2 (Divided Highway Ends) Sign is shown as a yellow diamond. The difference is that the black nose of the traffic island is at the bottom of the sign.

Q. Can Divided Highway Signs be used on private roads?

A.

Yes, you can. MUTCD general principles and standard traffic control device designs can be used on private roads too. Even private roads can have two lanes for traffic movement, separated by a physical barrier. A divided highway sign can warn your road users to be alert and watch out for the physical barrier ahead. Motorists would take necessary action for safety, like slowing down after seeing the sign.

Q. What is the difference between a Divided Highway and a Two-Lane Highway?

A.

A Divided Highway is a roadway where separate lanes are used by opposing traffic. The lane features a physical barrier or a median between them such that traffic moves separately on the different highways.

On the other hand, a Two-Lane Highway is a typical two-lane road with no physical barrier that separates opposing traffic. Two-lane highways feature double yellow lines. Also, some two-lane roads feature a single broken yellow line which indicates that drivers can pass even in the wrong direction. It is easy for a driver to drive in the wrong way or make a sharp U-turn.

Q. What are the MUTCD size requirements for Divided Highway Signs?

A.

As per MUTCD Table 2C-2, the minimum size required for Divided Highway Sign - W6-1 and Divided Highway Ends Sign - W6-2 is 36 x 36 inches for conventional roads (single lane and multi-lanes) and 48 x 48 inches for expressway and freeway lanes. Two-way traffic signs also have the same requirement.

Also, according to MUTCD Table 2B-1, Divided Highway Crossing Sign (R6-3 and R6-3a) must be 30 inches in width and 24 inches in height when mounted on a conventional single lane or multi-lane roads. 36 x 30 inches sign is required for expressways.

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