Studying the Bottleneck Issue at Work Zones and Assessing the Effectiveness of a Portable Dynamic Lane Merging System in Promoting Zip Merging Behavior

The proposed study examines the vehicle bottleneck issue at work zones, test and evaluate the ability of a portable dynamic lane merging system to facilitate "zip merge" behavior at lane-reduced work zones. Increased travel time, queue length, number of aggressive behaviors, and roadway accidents are commonly at work zones. Effective management on bottlenecks at work zones could help enhance the safety in driving and ease the traffic merging effects. One strategy called "zip merging" was employed by several states to encourage drivers to take turns when merging into reduced lanes at work zones. It is considered an effective tactic for merging traffic from several to fewer lanes with the least road rage. However, operational difficulties are often experienced by transportation authorities since most motorists in open lanes would not give up their right-of-way at the merge point. As a result, heavy congestion or "bottlenecks" are formed in closed lanes and thus increases the accident potential and road rage among drivers. Collaborating with a Czech Republic research team that developed a portable Dynamic Lane Merging System, this project will assess the effectiveness and usefulness of this system in managing traffic flow in work zones with lane reductions on Rhode Island Highways