Will a higher free-flow speed lead us to a less congested freeway?

An approach based on cell transmission model (CTM) is proposed to estimate the impact of variable free-flow speeds (FFS) on the performance of a freeway system. Based on the basic CTM, four typical freeway control strategies consisting of non control, local ramp metering, coordinated ramp metering and global control are first formulated. Then the method of adjusting model parameters to the changed free-flow speeds is presented. Among the adjustments, an experimental function based on Fan and Seibold (2014) is proposed to change the jam density. Several useful measures are defined to estimate and compare the performances of different freeways. The following three main observations are obtained from numerical experiments. (a) With the gradually increasing FFS, the throughput of freeway will increase at the beginning and then change to decrease. (b) With the increasing FFS, the average delay of vehicles will decrease at the beginning and then change to increase. (c) A series of free-flow speeds associate with the best performance of freeway. These observations are theoretically analyzed through investigating the location and capacity of bottleneck. Study shows that in general the actual bottleneck capacity will increase at the beginning and then change to decrease with the continually increasing FFS. In view of the positive correlation between traffic delay and bottleneck capacity, the theoretical analysis confirms the numerical observations. The findings of this study can deepen the understanding of freeway systems and help management agents adopt proper measures to improve the performance of the whole system.


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  • Accession Number: 01597546
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 4 2016 3:47PM