Access to Destinations: Twin Cities Metro-wide Traffic Micro-Simulation: Feasibility Investigation

Principal Investigator:

Panos Michalopoulos, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

The economic importance of effective traffic management becomes more and more evident as traffic demands increase. Faced with the negative effects of traffic congestion including higher transport costs, greater energy consumption, and increased driver delays, transportation agencies around the world areas have responded by building new roads and enhancing their traffic management systems. However, the high costs associated with these projects, and the possibility that improvements in different parts of a complex traffic management system may give rise to unforeseen interactions, have prompted many metropolitan areas to invest in the creation of metro-wide simulation systems that support the evaluation of alternative traffic management scenarios across an entire traffic network. Such undertakings are far from simple; even small-scale microscopic simulations require large amounts of high-quality data.

Under the umbrella of the Access to Destinations Study, several research teams worked to produce new metrics for transportation system performance based on the concept of accessibility. The objectives of this project were to evaluate the feasibility of developing a traffic simulation system for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and to propose the most appropriate methodology for the design and implementation of such a system, taking into account local needs and capabilities.

In what is likely to be an enduring period of constrained public resources, lawmakers and government executives will seek the best information possible for making policy choices and deciding where to make public investments. In a landmark series of studies known as Access to Destinations, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) at the University of Minnesota has opened up new frontiers of information for better policy and investment decisions.

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