Access to Destinations: Arterial Data Acquisition and Network- Wide Travel Time Estimation (Phase II)

Principal Investigator(s):

Gary Davis, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


  • John Hourdos, Former Research Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

The objectives of this project were to (a) produce historic estimates of travel times on Twin-Cities arterials for 1995 and 2005, and (b) develop an initial architecture and database that could, in the future, produce timely estimates of arterial traffic volumes and travel times.

The Phase I field study indicated that on arterial links where both the demand traffic volume and the signal timing are known, model-based estimates of travel time that are on average within 10% of measured values can be obtained. Phase II of this project then focused on applying this approach to the entire Twin Cities arterial system. The Phase II effort divided into three main subtasks: (1) updating estimates of demand traffic volume obtained from a transportation planning model to make them consistent with available volume measurements, (2) collecting information on traffic signal locations in the Twin Cities and compiling this into a geographic database, and (3) combining the updated traffic volumes and signal information to produce link-by-link peak-period travel time estimates. The traffic volume update took as inputs the predicted volumes generated by a traffic assignment model and measured average annual daily traffic from automatic traffic recorders, and gave as output updated estimates of the traffic volumes for links lacking automatic traffic recorders. A request to state, county and municipal agencies in the seven-county metro area produced information on approximately 2,900 traffic signals. Estimated arterial travel times for the morning and afternoon peak periods for 1995 and 2005 were then computed and sent to other components of the Access to Destinations effort.

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.

Project details: