Development and evaluation of operational strategies for providing an integrated diamond interchange ramp-metering control system
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Diamond interchanges and their associated ramps are where the surface street arterial system and the freeway system interface. Historically, these two elements of the system have been operated with little or no coordination between the two. Therefore, there is a lack of both analysis tools and operational strategies for considering them as an integrated system. One drawback of operating the ramp-metering system and the diamond interchange system in isolation is that traffic from the ramp, particularly if it is metered, can spill back into the diamond interchange, causing both congestion and safety concerns at the diamond interchange. While flushing the ramp queues by temporarily suspending ramp metering has been the primary strategy for preventing queue spillback, it can result in freeway system breakdown, which would affect the entire system's efficiency. The aim of this research was to develop operational strategies for managing an integrated diamond interchange ramp-metering system (IDIRMS). Enhanced modeling methodologies were developed for an IDIRMS. A computer model named DRIVE (Diamond Interchange and Ramp Metering Integration Via Evaluation) was developed, which was characterized as a mesoscopic simulation and analysis model. DRIVE incorporated the enhanced modeling methodologies developed in this study and could be used to perform system analysis for an IDIRMS given a set of system input parameters and variables. DRIVE was validated against a VISSIM microscopic simulation model, and general agreement was found between the two models. System operational characteristics were investigated using DRIVE to gain a better understanding of the system features. Integrated control strategies (ICS) were developed based on the two commonly used diamond interchange phasing schemes, basic three-phase and TTI four-phase. The ICS were evaluated using VISSIM microscopic simulation under three general traffic demand scenarios: low, medium, and high, as characterized by the volume-to-capacity ratios at the metered ramps. The results of the evaluation indicate that the integrated operations through an adaptive signal control system were most effective under the medium traffic demand scenario by preventing or delaying the onset of ramp-metering queue flush, thereby minimizing freeway breakdown and system delays.