The impetus of this research is to meet the growing need for accurate and practical methods to support traffic analysis in work zones. Road construction and maintenance activities have become a common feature for the majority of U.S. roads over the last few years as a result of an aging infrastructure and increased funding in the last two highway bills. At the same time, traffic levels across the United States continue to surge, especially along urban corridors. Therefore, it is no surprise that concerns over traffic safety and delays in work zones continue to top national transportation priorities. Recent transportation legislation has addressed work zone safety and mobility concerns by requiring states to develop a systematic process that starts early in project development and continues through project completion. In addition, every significant project must include a transportation management plan.
This research examines the application of two classes of traffic analysis models, macroscopic sketch analysis and microscopic traffic simulation, to work zones. The Excel-based QuickZone developed by the Federal Highway Administration provides a relatively easy to use macro-level analysis tool. Citilabs’ Dynasim and PTV America’s VISSIM are the two microscopic traffic simulation models used in this study. The research will evaluate the application of these tools to an urban interstate work zone.
Specifically, this research will examine the following: 1) how the use of traffic analysis models relates to federal requirements about considering traffic impacts of major construction projects, 2) the accuracy of model results in comparison to real-world conditions, and 3) modeling effort and data requirements of these models.
The primary objectives of this research are as follows: 1) determining the feasibility of applying a traffic analysis model to a work-zone environment, 2) calibrating and validating the simulation models based on data collected in the work zone, 3) using the calibrated model to apply various work zone management strategies, and 4) documenting the research findings and lessons learned from the model applications.