Traffic Forecasting on Trunk Highways in Nonmetropolitan Areas: A Survey of State Practice

Traffic forecasting plays an important role for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) in corridor planning, geometric design, pavement design, safety analysis, benefit/cost analysis, access management, and environmental analysis and mitigation. In previous decades, Minnesota has seen steady growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, in recent years VMT growth in Minnesota has been flat and declined by 0.5 percent from 2009 to 2010. MnDOT is interested in learning how other states are dealing with what appears to be a nationwide trend in a leveling off or decline in VMT, and what forecasting methods are used by state DOTs to project traffic volumes in nonmetropolitan areas with a population under 50,000. To gather information about state DOT traffic forecasting practices used to project traffic volumes in nonmetropolitan areas with a population under 50,000, CTC & Associates distributed a brief online survey to members of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning. The survey of current practice summarizes the 30 responses to the survey. Most survey respondents use linear regression models to estimate future traffic volumes. Socioeconomic variables are widely used by survey respondents when forecasting future traffic volumes, with data on total population, employment and households most frequently cited by respondents. The most frequently cited time period used in projecting traffic volumes is 20 years. Forty percent of respondents prepare 30-year forecasts. Twenty-three respondents noted a flattening or decrease in VMT. Eleven states are considering changes in the methodology used to forecast traffic volumes to address this trend or have already adopted changes. Changes in growth rates and statewide models are most often cited by respondents wishing to reflect a decrease in VMT in their forecasting methodology.


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  • Accession Number: 01601697
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: May 31 2016 1:17PM