Developing a Systematic Approach to Improving Bottleneck Analysis in North Carolina

A bottleneck is defined as a location where demand for usage of a highway section regularly exceeds the section’s physical ability to handle it. In fact, nearly 40% of all on-road congestion nationwide can be attributed to physical bottlenecks - specific points on the highway system where traffic flow is restricted. Many congestion issues that impact NC drivers on a daily basis can be traced back to a bottleneck, be it stationary or moving. Bottleneck mitigation is by no means a trivial exercise. The causes of bottlenecks can be highly complex and if one is ameliorated, one or more unexpected bottlenecks can quickly emerge elsewhere. Traditional transportation modeling approaches that can be applied to examine the bottlenecks can be classified as either operational or planning in nature. Unfortunately, neither approach is well-suited for a comprehensive analysis and treatment of bottlenecks. Operational models lack the regional scope and travel behavior capabilities and thus cannot be used to holistically treat bottleneck mitigation’s unexpected consequences. Planning models cannot represent traffic flow accurately enough to enable the capturing of the intricacies of vehicular dynamics. A new and systematic approach needs to be developed to improving bottleneck analysis (including examining, characterizing, and mitigating bottlenecks) at the network level. To address these needs, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) have assembled a strong team and will bring strong expertise to make full use of years of research experience with operations research, transportation network modeling and optimization, traffic operations and traffic simulation. Those capabilities are essential to the success of this research project. Specifically, the researchers will comprehensively review and synthesize past experiences in dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) modeling at the mesoscopic level and VISSIM modeling at the microscopic level and their applications to bottleneck analysis; develop a methodology to identify and examine bottlenecks on freeways and arterials; define a set of measures of effectiveness (MOEs) to quantify the impact of candidate approaches on system bottleneck mitigation and travel conditions; develop a systematic approach and several DTA models for regional scale bottleneck analysis; and develop a framework for ranking bottleneck projects by comparing their impact on system-wide bottleneck mitigation and travel conditions. The systematic approach developed through this project will enable NCDOT to holistically model and mitigate bottlenecks at a system level as compared to that focusing on a localized level only, and therefore can manage and reduce traffic congestion statewide in a systematic, more efficient and effective manner.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      North Carolina Department of Transportation

      Research and Development
      1549 Mail Service Center
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
    • Project Managers:

      Morrison, Ernest

    • Start Date: 20150801
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01582846
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Dec 8 2015 4:19PM