Get More Out of Variable Speed Limit Control: An Integrated Approach to Manage Traffic Corridors with Multiple Bottlenecks

Variable speed limit (VSL) has been studied as a variable control method to improve traffic safety under various conditions. Most existing studies have not investigated how to leverage VSL to increase traffic throughput or reduce environmental costs induced by congestion spillbacks. In this research, the research team explores the feasibility of using an integrated VSL framework to enhance the traffic performance in terms of traffic throughput and environmental costs. The team will use the state-of-the-art traffic flow model and real-time traffic data to identify bottlenecks, estimate spillover effects without control, and design integrated VSL and ramp metering strategies to reduce or eliminate shockwaves emanated from the bottlenecks. Unlike previous VSL control where the primary objective was to smooth traffic speed, this approach targets several goals: reduce speed variation, increase throughput, and reduce emissions and fuel use. The team will implement the VSL control strategies using macro emission rates from Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) to investigate the impact of different levels of data availability and drivers’ compliance rates. From the simulation tests, the team will also investigate the feasibility of inserting probe vehicles on certain corridor segments, to improve data accuracy and provide guiding speed to enhance the VSL control efficiency simultaneously.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $116813
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    United States Department of Transportation - FHWA - LTAP

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC    20590

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    METRANS Transportation Center

    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
  • Project Managers:

    Brinkerhoff, Cort

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of California Transportation Center/Institute of Transportation Studies

    University of California
    Davis, CA  United States  95616
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zhang, Michael

  • Start Date: 20181001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20191231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01685193
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747109
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 10 2018 10:49AM