Measuring Congestion and Reliability Impacts of Safety Projects

This study uses a suite of performance measures that was developed by taking into consideration various aspects of congestion and reliability, to assess impacts of safety projects on congestion. Safety projects are necessary to help move Virginia’s roadways toward safer operation, but can contribute to congestion and unreliability during execution, and can affect operations after execution. However, safety projects are assessed primarily for safety improvements, not for congestion. This study identifies an appropriate suite of measures, and quantifies and compares the congestion and reliability impacts of safety projects on roadways for the periods before, during, and after project execution. The paper presents the performance measures, examines their sensitivity based on operating conditions, defines thresholds for congestion and reliability, and demonstrates the measures using a set of Virginia safety projects. The data set consists of 10 projects totalling 92?mi and more than 1M data points. The study found that, overall, safety projects tended to have a positive impact on congestion and reliability after completion, and the congestion variability measures were sensitive to the threshold of reliability. The study concludes with practical recommendations for primary measures that may be used to measure overall impacts of safety projects: percent vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reliable with a customized threshold for Virginia; percent VMT delayed; and time to travel 10?mi. However, caution should be used when applying the results directly to other situations, because of the limited number of projects used in the study.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Project and hourly profile data are available from internal VDOT databases. AADT data is available publicly from the VDOT Traffic Data webpage, Speed data is available from RITIS. © National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2021.
  • Authors:
    • Babiceanu, Simona
    • Lahiri, Sanhita
    • Lockwood, Mena
  • Publication Date: 2021


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01763458
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: TRBAM-21-01541
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 23 2020 11:00AM