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INFORMATION: Traffic Control Strategies for Toll Plazas

Canceled on January 15, 2010; Superseded by the MUTCD, 2009 Edition

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U.S. Department of Transportation
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via Electronic Mail

Subject: INFORMATION: Traffic Control Strategies for Toll Plazas
October 12, 2006
From: Jeffrey F. Paniati /s/Jeffrey F. Paniati
Associate Administrator for Operations
Jeffrey A. Lindley /s/Jeffrey A. Lindley
Associate Administrator for Safety
Reply to
Attn of:

To: Associate Administrators
Chief Counsel
Directors of Field Services
Resource Center Director and Operations Managers
Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
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Our national transportation system is experiencing an increase in the use of toll collection facilities. This trend will grow significantly as SAFETEA-LU offers States and other qualifying transportation agencies more opportunities to enact tolls as a means of financing various operating, construction, or reconstruction projects.

One challenge for engineers, designers, planners, and other decision makers in the transportation field is that there are few, if any, traffic control standards for operating toll plazas in a consistent and uniform manner. Consistency and uniformity of traffic control strategies are important safety factors to consider because of the potential benefits they present for promoting efficient traffic flow, improving driver familiarity, as well as creating quicker recognition and response time.

The FHWA, in collaboration with the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), recently completed a study of traffic control strategies at toll plazas and issued a report entitled, "State of the Practice and Recommendations on Traffic Control Strategies at Toll Plazas." This report is posted on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Web site at The recommendations in this policy memorandum are based on that report. We believe that the findings and recommendations contained in the report will be useful to agencies (1) seeking new solutions to improve safety and operations of existing toll plazas; (2) contemplating replacement or modification of an existing toll plaza; or (3) planning a new toll plaza.


The purpose of this policy memorandum is to provide guidelines on certain traffic control strategies and devices used at mainline toll plazas. The recommendations discussed in this policy memorandum are intended to provide a consistent strategy for guiding and controlling the movement of vehicles through mainline toll plazas in an orderly manner so that safety is enhanced, and better efficiency and economy of design is achieved.


We strongly encourage the implementation of the recommendations prescribed in this memorandum by all public and private agencies that operate toll plazas particularly when addressing facility retrofits, reconstruction, or any new construction. The FHWA is considering proposing some of these provisions in the notice for proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for the next edition of the MUTCD. This NPRM would clearly identify the proposed standards, guidance, and options and would provide the public an opportunity to review and comment.

Specific Guidance for Traffic Control Strategies and Devices at Toll Plazas

We believe the best practice recommendations discussed in this policy memorandum represent a positive first step in promoting uniformity and consistency of toll plaza design and operation. We welcome your questions and comments as we continue to identify appropriate strategies for traffic control at toll plazas. Please contact Ms. Linda L. Brown of my staff at 202-366-2192 or via e-mail at



Example Diagrams for Toll Sign Colors and Use of Flashing Beacons

Example 1

Example 1 shows purple ETC Pictograph w/ boader added.

Example 2

Example 2 shows ETC Pictograph is NOT purple --- use of purple banner panel.

Example 3

Example 3 shows ETC Pictograph is NOT purple --- narrow purple background panel with border, on green sign.

Example 4

Example 4 shows ETC Pictograph is NOT purple --- purple banner panel.

Example 5

Example 5

Example 6

Example 6

Example 7

Example 7 shows this sign may be used where ETC lanes are combined with mixed payment lanes.

Example 8

Example 8 shows Flashing Beacons Separated from Lane-Use Control Signals.