Using traffic simulation modeling for construction staging

By Tony Heppelmann, Vice President, WSB

As traffic has gotten heavier throughout many metro areas, the Federal Highway Administration has been encouraging DOTs to be more proactive in their maintenance of traffic during construction. 

Good construction staging provides safe and efficient traffic operations throughout a project to minimize impacts on the community during construction. WSB has begun development of traffic models that simulate the flow of traffic under different staging scenarios. These traffic simulation models consider all available routes, how construction will impact these routes and how much additional time this will add for commuters. These models are being used to determine if there are improvements that need to be made on any surrounding routes to allow for better operations throughout construction.

This new approach is more proactive than past construction staging methods and is based upon data. By modeling construction conditions, we’re able to pinpoint where potential challenges may occur during construction and how to avoid them. Below is a list construction staging model benefits.

The benefits of construction staging models
  1. By understanding what the impacts to the community are, we can be more proactive in mitigating them.
  2. If we know what routes traffic will use, we can ensure that traffic controls are set up to accommodate additional traffic volumes.
  3. Limit changes can be evaluated.
  4. Reduces public complaints.
  5. Informs decisions on critical maintenance items.
  6. Provides a public engagement tool for cities and residents.

Through traffic simulation models, we’ve been able to enhance construction staging resulting in better projects.

Tony Heppelmann has 40 years of experience in transportation planning and design. He has in-depth experience with the travel forecasting process and models. He has worked in the analysis of arterial and freeway operations and the various software programs used in these analyses.

theppelmann@wsbeng.com | 763.287.7199

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