Subnetwork analysis for dynamic traffic assignment : methodology and application



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Dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) can be used to model impacts of network modification scenarios, including traffic control plans (TCPs), on traffic flow. However, using DTA for modeling construction project impacts is limited by the computational time required to simulate entire roadway networks. DTA modeling of a portion of the larger network surrounding these work zones can decrease the overall run time. However, impacts are likely to extend beyond typical boundaries, and determining the proper extents to be analyzed is necessary. Therefore, a methodology for selecting an adequate portion to analyze using DTA, along with provision for properly analyzing the resultant subnetwork, is necessary to determine the magnitude of construction impacts.

The primary objectives of this research center on evaluating subnetwork sizes to determine the appropriate extents required to analyze network modifications and developing a strategy to account for impacts extending beyond the subnetwork boundary. The first objective is accomplished through an in-depth review of subnetwork sizes relative to multiple impact scenarios. Three statistical measures are implemented to evaluate the adequacy of a chosen subnetwork relative to the derived impact scenarios based on an assessment of boundary demand. Ultimately, the root mean squared error is used successfully to provide a series of recommended subnetwork sizes associated with an array of possible impact scenarios. These recommendations are validated, and application of the proposed methodology demonstrated, using five scenarios selected from real-world network modifications observed in the field.

When a subnetwork is not large enough and impacts to inbound trips pass beyond the boundary, there is a change in flow at this location that can be represented by a change in the demand assigned to the subnetwork at each entry point. As such, two strategies for adjusting the demand at subnetwork boundaries are implemented and evaluated. This includes use of results from static traffic assignment (STA) models to identify where flow changes occur, and implementation of a logit formulation to estimate demand adjustments based on differences in internal travel times between base and impact scenario models. Based on preliminary results, the logit method was selected for large-scale implementation and testing. In the end, an inconsistent performance of the logit method for full implementation highlights the limitations of the methodology as applied for this study. However, the results suggest that a refined strategy that builds on the foundation established could work more effectively and produce valuable subnetwork demand estimates in the future.

This research is used to provide recommendations for selecting and analyzing subnetworks using DTA for an array of common impact scenarios involving network modifications. The tradeoffs between improved efficiency and reduced accuracy associated with using subnetworks are thoroughly demonstrated. It is shown that a considerable amount of computational time and space, as well as effort on the part of an analyst, can be saved. A number of limitations associated with subnetworks are also identified and discussed. The proposed methodology is implemented and evaluated using several software programs and as a result, a number of useful tools and software scripts are developed as part of the research. Ultimately, the valuable experience gained from performing an extensive review of subnetwork analysis using DTA can be used as a basis from which to develop future research initiatives.