Research | 2017

FHWA Synthesis of the Median U-Turn Intersection Treatment

  • Published by:  Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Co-authored by:  Dr. Joe G Bared , Wei Zhang , Ramanujan (Ram) Jagannathan

Synthesis of the Median U-Turn Intersection Treatment, Safety, and Operational Benefits


In the United States, congestion at intersections throughout urban and suburban areas continues to worsen. Crashes reported at intersections have continued to increase. One potential treatment to combat congestion and safety problems at intersections is the Median U-Turn Intersection Treatment (MUTIT), which has been used extensively in Michigan for many years and has been implemented successfully in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and Louisiana in recent years


Based on the literature review conducted, the following summarizes the major conclusions: 

  • Michigan and other States have successfully used the MUTIT for over four decades without major problems related to traffic operational failures or safety hazards. 
  • Positive guidance communicated through additional signs and pavement markings at MUTIT sites may be beneficial in reducing driver confusion and enhancing traffic safety. 
  • With respect to driver expectancy, the MUTIT should not be mixed with other indirect and direct left-turn strategies on corridor level implementations. 
  • Though the MUTIT is typically a corridor treatment, the concept has been used successfully for isolated intersections to improve traffic operations and safety. 
  • Loons can be installed to accommodate larger U-turning vehicles, so the MUTIT can be a feasible treatment for corridors with narrow medians. 
  • Directional median crossovers provide better operational and safety benefits compared to bidirectional median crossovers. 
  • Reducing signal phases at the intersection provides increased capacity for the MUTIT in comparison to the conventional intersections. The capacity increases are typically in the range of 20 percent to 50 percent. 
  • The total network travel time savings can and usually does outweigh the additional travel time required for left-turning vehicles from the major road and cross street for corridors with the MUTIT compared to conventional intersections. 
  • The safety performance of MUTIT is better than conventional intersections because they have fewer vehicle-vehicle conflict points. Typical total crash reductions range from 20 percent to 50 percent. 
  • Head-on and angle crashes that have high probabilities of injury are significantly reduced for the MUTIT compared to conventional intersections. 
Effects, Medians