SGER: Responding to the Unexpected: Understanding Travelers' Behavioral Choices in the Wake of the MS River Bridge Collapse

Principal Investigator(s):

Henry Liu, Former Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


  • Kathleen Harder, Former Senior Research Associate, College of Design
  • David Levinson, Former U of M Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

This Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) project aimed to collect perishable traffic data in the wake of the collapse of the Interstate Highway 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. The bridge collapse resulted in immediate loss of life and serious consequences for mobility and accessibility in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Under such a severe network disruption, the traffic equilibrium is disturbed and travelers must learn new traffic patterns; eventually network traffic may evolve into a new equilibrium, or may remain in a disordered state. The project objectives were to understand travelers' behavioral choices and how traffic evolves from a disequilibrium state to potential equilibria, since understanding the transition and learning processes of travelers' behavioral responses are essential to effective traffic management after network disruption and for long-term transportation planning. Both aggregated highway traffic data and disaggregated traveler behavioral choice data were collected. Since traffic patterns evolve in a day-to-day context and it becomes increasingly difficult for travelers to recall their choices as time passes, the quality of data collection fades over time, requiring researchers to initiate their data collection efforts as quickly as possible.

Project details: