A Transportation Planning Model for State Highway Management: A Decision Support System Methodology to Achieve Sustainable Development

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Virginia Tech

The realization that the U.S. infrastructure is deteriorating and that there is a need to establish a strategy to prevent an infrastructure catastrophe have propelled the development of various infrastructure management systems. Often, the expansion of transportation facilities is regarded as a means to the improvement of the condition of transportation infrastructure. However, building more infrastructure than can be properly maintained causes serious deterioration of the existing infrastructure. Sustainable development from a highway management perspective can be equated with qualitative development, which improves the current condition of the highway system, rather than expanding its physical resources.

The objective of this research is to develop a highway management strategy to help achieve sustainable development for the Commonwealth of Virginia. This research is performed by developing a transportation planning model for state highway management (TPMSHM) within the framework of a decision support system (DSS). The planning model consists of ten subsystems, including pavement and bridge management subsystems. These subsystems encompass various socioeconomic parameters that influence the physical status of highways. In the dynamic simulation model, these parameters are expressed in causal relationships using a system dynamics methodology. The types of trajectories for highway conditions that lead to sustainable development are provided.

This research proposes a state-dependent prioritization strategy for calculating efficient budget shares by hierarchical levels of highway conditions. In this strategy, the proportions of the highway budget allocated to each level of management activity are determined by the physical conditions of the highways. Highways in the worst condition are given the first priority to receive the budget allocations. The model also addresses the policy of raising fuels tax to increase the state's transportation revenue. The adverse impact of a fuels tax increase is discussed in terms of revenue, the physical sufficiency of highways, and user benefits.

The TPMSHM constitutes a leading component of the DSS and governs the building processes of other two components, which include a Data Base and a Display Base. A Data Base is constructed by listing all the parameters needed by the TPMSHM within a frame designed in terms of the records and fields of the parameters. A Display Base is demonstrated in a possible form using system dynamics' Powersim software. The graphical capability of representing the simulation results and the interactive user interface inherent in the software are examined.

The emphasis of this research is placed on the development of the TPMSHM, which strives to manage the physical condition of the state highway system at an acceptable level through a state-dependent prioritization strategy to achieve sustainable development.

Transportation Planning, Highway Management, System Dynamics, Sustainable Development, Decision Support System