Minimizing User Delay and Crash Potential Through Highway Work Zone PlanningAuthor/Presenter: Kurker, Michael; Fournier, Chris; Zhao, Qun; Hakimi, Shadi; Qi, Yi; Tang, Shoupeng; Liu, Rouyu; Juri, Natalia Ruiz; Duthie, Jennifer; Machemehl, Randy
Lane closures due to highway work zones introduce many challenges to ensuring smooth traffic operations and a safe environment for drivers and workers. In addition, merging has been found to be one of the most stressful aspects of driving and a merge process that is viewed as “unfair” through actions like queue jumping can lead to further unsafe behaviors stemming from “road rage.” To address these issues, the work in this project will focus on lane control solutions for intermediate and long-term highway work zones. In order to evaluate network performance, driver behavior, driver operations, and impacts on safety, several tools were used. Using a combination of field observations, microsimulation, and dynamic traffic assignment tools, the main objective was to develop a procedural guide or decision tree for freeway work zone traffic control planning. This procedural guide would then be presented to the Texas Department of Transportation in a pilot training workshop. Using microsimulation software, with a focus on VISSIM, the analysis of different applications of merge concepts through delay and safety is presented in the project. In order to appropriately draw conclusions about and identify trends of different merge concepts from the microsimulation software, early merge, late merge, and signal merge were first explored in a thorough literature review. In addition to delay and queuing analysis completed using VISSIM, the Federal Highway Administration’s Surrogate Safety Assessment Model (SSAM) was used to address the effects of implementing signal merge on rear-end and lane-change conflicts. Compiling the data collection, VISSIM microsimulation outputs, and SSAM signal merge safety outputs, general conclusions and decisions were provided.