Development of the Next Generation Metro-Wide Simulation Models for the Twin Cities' Metropolitan Area: Mesoscopic Modeling


Henry Liu, Adam Danczyk, Xiaozheng He

January 2011

Report no. CTS 11-03

The collapse of the Interstate 35W Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis resulted in unexpected loss of life and had serious consequences on mobility and accessibility in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In response to the network disruption caused by the bridge collapse, a number of traffic restoration projects were proposed and rapidly implemented by MnDOT. Selection and prioritization of these projects, however, was based mainly on engineering judgment and experience. The only decision-support tool available to traffic engineers was the regional transportation planning model, which is static in nature and decennial.

In this work, the Twin Cities metropolitan area is simulated using a mesoscopic traffic simulator in the AIMSUN software. After establishing the mesoscopic simulation model, we attempt to utilize the calibrated mesoscopic simulation model to evaluate drivers perceived cost evolution to explain the traffic dynamics on the Twin Cities road network after the unexpected collapse of the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River. Given the observation of largely underutilized sections of network, it is proposed that the tragedy generated a perceived travel cost to discourage commuters from using these sections. Applying a mesoscopic simulation model provided by AIMSUN, the perceived costs on cordon lines after the I-35W Bridge collapse were suggested to be best described as an exponential decay cost curve. The proposed model is applicable to both practitioners and researchers in traffic related fields by providing an understanding of how traffic dynamics will evolve after a long-term, unexpected network disruption.

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