What effect does work activity type have on traffic conditions in a work zone? This question has still not been answered satisfactorily in practice. Without knowing the true effect a work activity has on traffic, practitioners are forced to make assumptions while scheduling work. This paper attempts to answer this question by studying the traffic flow characteristics, that is, traffic speed versus flow curves, capacity reduction factors, and free-flow speed reduction factors, for various activities related to construction and maintenance. The importance of the speed–flow curves and reduction factors for work zone planning is also stressed in the latest edition of the Transportation Research Board’s Highway Capacity Manual. This manual recommends capacity and speed reduction factors for work zones, yet does not include specific guidance for including the impact of work activities. Three traffic stream models, Gipps, Newell–Franklin, and Van Aerde, were calibrated using field data from St. Louis, Missouri. The Van Aerde model fitted the field data the best as compared to the other two models. Using the Van Aerde model-generated speed–flow curves, it was found that the capacity for bridge-related activities varied from 1,416 vehicles per hour per lane (vphpl) to 1,656 vphpl and for pavement-related activities from 1,120 vphpl to 1,728 vphpl. The capacity reduction factor for different work activities was found to be in the range 0.68 to 0.95, whereas the free-flow speed reduction factor was found to be in the range 0.78 to 1.0. The methodology proposed in this paper contributes toward the development of practitioner guidance and incorporation of work activity effects into traffic impact assessment tools.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: May 2018
Full Text URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Books, Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Traffic Flow; Traffic Models; Traffic Speed; Work Zones