Criteria and Guidelines for Three-Lane Road Design and Operation


Gary Davis, John Hourdos, Jingru Gao

February 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-09

A 4-3 conversion involves changing a four-lane undivided road into one with two general travel lanes separated by a two-way left turn lane. A commonly-used guideline states that a 4-3 conversion can be considering as long as the road's average annual daily traffic (AADT) volume does not exceed 15,000 vehicles/day but opinions vary, from lowering the AADT threshold to 10,000 vehicles/day to anecdotal evidence for successful 4-3 conversions with AADTs as high as 20,000. The main objective of this project was to identify conditions where 4-3 conversions might be feasible at AADTs greater than 15,000. After reviewing the literature, we conducted simulation studies on three different roads to identify combinations of major and minor road flow where three-lane configurations provided acceptable levels of service. Eight intersections, with 16 approaches, were then selected to represent our findings. These results were presented as summary tables that practitioners could use to make initial assessments regarding 4-3 conversion feasibility.

Download or order

Download PDF (4.8 MB)