Restricted Crossing U-Turn

Restricted Crossing U-turn (RCUT) Intersections - also known as J-turns

A Restricted Crossing U-turn (RCUT) intersection is a type of Reduced Conflict Intersection used primarily on four-lane divided highways. RCUT intersections differ from conventional intersections by re-routing left-turn and through vehicles from the side road. Motorists approaching the divided highway from the side road are required to turn right and then make a U-turn at a designated median opening. 

Safety issue

A conventional intersection on a four-lane divided highway has forty-two (42) conflict points. Each conflict point has some level of exposure and risk which can lead to crashes. Crossing conflicts have an increased potential for right-angle crashes which often result in severe injuries. These crashes typically occur on the far side of the four-lane divided highway when a driver attempts to cross the highway or turn left onto the divided highway.

 

Safety design

At intersections on four-lane divided highways that are experiencing safety issues, engineers evaluate alternatives to improve safety which can include reducing conflict points. A Restricted Crossing U-turn (RCUT) intersection reduces the number and type of conflict points to simplify a driver’s decision-making. Crossing conflicts are reduced from twenty-four to four which has been shown to reduce right-angle crashes. A study completed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found RCUT intersections can reduce right angle crashes by up to 75 percent (Hummer, 2010).

 

Benefits of RCUT Intersections

  • Reduces crash potential – particularly far side right angle crashes
  • Simplifies driving task – only required to look at one direction of traffic at a time
  • Provides additional space for longer vehicles to store in median
  • Easily retrofitted – often without purchasing additional right-of-way
  • Low cost compared to an interchange or overpass while continuing to provide access

Where are they being used?

Wisconsin DOT has installed three variations of RCUT intersections with stop sign control at side road approaches (aka “J-turn”)

  1. ​RCUT with non-extended turn lanes on divided highway
    (Side road left-turn and side road through movements are re-routed)
  2. RCUT with extended turn lanes on divided highway
    (Side road left-turn, side road through movements and left-turn movements from divided highway are all re-routed)
  3. RCUT with extended turn lanes on divided highway 
    (Side road left-turn and side road through movements are re-routed)

 

View a map of RCUT locations

 

  1. RCUT with non-extended turn lanes on divided highway
    (Side road left-turn and through movements are re-routed)
  2. Signing to direct side road vehicles to merge with traffic on divided highway before making u-turn.

    Wisconsin Locations

    1. US 53 & County B - Douglas County – North of Salon Springs (Opened 2011)
    2. WIS 29 & County VV - Brown County – Near Green Bay (Opened 2013)
    3. WIS 23 & County M - Sheboygan County – Near Sheboygan Falls (Opened 2013)
    4. WIS 57 & County C - Door County – Near Brussels (Opened 2015)

  3. ​RCUT with extended turn lanes on divided highway
    (Side road left-turn and through movements and left-turn movements from divided highway are re-routed)
  4. *Special signing allows for legal crossing maneuver from side road to u-turn.

    Wisconsin Locations

    1. US 53 & County B - Washburn County – Near Spooner (Opened 2015)

  5. ​​RCUT with extended turn lanes on divided highway
    (Side road left-turn and through movements are re-routed)
  6. *Special signing allows for legal crossing maneuver from side road to u-turn.

    Wisconsin Locations

    1. WIS 54 & County U -  Portage County / Wood County (Opened 2016) VIDEO

*Rules of the Road – Wisconsin State Statute 346.31

Motorists are expected to turn into the closest lane as practical except where signs or pavement markings direct them to turn into a specific lane.

For more information

Restricted Crossing U-turn Informational Guide (FHWA, 2014)

Superstreet Benefits (Hummer, 2010)

Contacts

Paul Vraney, P.E.
WisDOT Roadway Design Standards Engineer
paul.vraney@dot.wi.gov
(608) 266-8486

Brian Porter, P.E., P.T.O.E
WisDOT State Traffic Safety Engineer
brian.porter@dot.wi.gov
(608) 267-0452