Best Practices for Modeling Light Rail at Intersections

The peak demand on urban light rail facilities coincides with the peak for motorized vehicles and pedestrian traffic, maximizing the potential for conflict between the various modes. If signal timing plans are not properly coordinated between light rail and the motorized vehicles, excessive queuing and delays may occur. High levels of congestion have been linked to aggressive driving behaviors, increasing the likelihood of signal violations by drivers and negative safety outcomes for the light rail facility. This research proposes to provide guidelines for best practices in modeling urban light rail facilities within transportation simulation software packages, improving the understanding of engineers and planners considering light rail facilities, and increasing the safety of those facilities with best-possible signal operations. Two case study locations are proposed, including the square city block defined by Stout St, California St, 18th St, and 19th St in Denver, Colorado, and the corridor along Main St between South Temple and 100 South in Salt Lake City, Utah. On-site video data will be collected and used for validation of simulated facilities within three simulation environments, including VISSIM, Aimsun, and Paramics traffic simulation software. Of particular concern are: modeling the scheduled behavior of the light-rail facility; interactions between the light-rail, motor vehicles, and pedestrians; signal preemption by the rail; and optimization of the actuated signal systems to minimize motor vehicle delay while prioritizing light-rail movements. In addition to the project report outlining best practices for modeling this type of facility, extension components of the research are proposed to present these findings at national conferences, and develop tutorial walkthroughs for inclusion on a file sharing site such as YouTube.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $108375
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Nebraska Department of Roads

    1500 Highway 2
    Lincoln, Nebraska  United States  68509-4759
  • Managing Organizations:

    University of Nebraska, Lincoln

    College of Engineering and Technology
    Lincoln, NE  United States  68503
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Nebraska, Lincoln

    College of Engineering and Technology
    Lincoln, NE  United States  68503
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sangster, John

  • Start Date: 20161001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180630
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01616221
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University Transportation Center for Railway Safety
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC59
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 11 2016 11:55AM