A Modeling Approach for Evaluating Network Impacts of Operational-Level Transportation Projects

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Virginia Tech

This thesis presents the use of microscopic traffic simulation models to evaluate the effects of operational-level transportation projects such as ITS. A detailed framework outlining the construction and calibration of microscopic simulation models is provided, as well as the considerations that must be made when analyzing the outputs from these models. Two case studies are used to reinforce the concepts presented. In addition, these case studies give valuable insight for using the outlined approach under real-world conditions.

The study indicates a promising future for the use of microsimulation models for the purpose of evaluating operational-level projects, as the theoretical framework of the models is sound, and the computational strategies used are feasible. There are, however, instances where simulation models do not presently model certain phenomena, or where simulation models are too computationally intensive. Comprehensive models that integrate microscopic simulation with land use planning and realistic predictions of human behavior, for instance, cannot practically be modeled in contemporary simulation packages. Other than these instances, the largest obstacles to using simulation packages were found to be the manpower required and the complexity of constructing a model. Continuing research efforts and increasing computer speeds are expected to resolve the former issues. Both of the latter concerns are alleviated by the approach presented herein. Within the approach framework detailed in this thesis, particular emphasis is given to the calibration aspects of constructing a microscopic simulation model. Like the simulation process as a whole, calibration is both an art and a science, and relies on sound engineering judgement rather than indiscriminate, formulaic processes.

Metropolitan Model Deployment Initiative, Microscopic Simulation, Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITS, Signal Coordination, INTEGRATION, Simulation Modeling, MMDI