A New Jersey 'traffic study' wouldn't need lane closings
Software today is capable of simulating the impact of road changes on traffic flows, without messing up commutes
Computerworld - The explanation that New Jersey closed access lanes on the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge for a "traffic study" is a head scratcher for traffic engineers.
Engineers today use so-called microscopic traffic simulations to create virtual environments that can model driver behavior to road changes with exacting detail.
There's have plenty of data available for the simulations. One of the best sources are video camera systems that use software to count vehicles on roadways.
The simulation software can model the impact of road changes with precision and without any need to close lanes to test theories, according to several traffic engineers interviewed by Computerworld.
There is no evidence, in documents released late last week by investigators, that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey considered computer models in lieu of a real world action. The Port Authority manages bridges and tunnels, airports, ports, and other critical systems in that region.
Instead, the Port Authority shut down two of the three access lanes for four days last September from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge without warning the public, citing a "traffic study."
After the lanes were closed, many people complained about it to the Port Authority, public officials and to local newspapers. The Port Authority was accused by one woman of "playing God with people's jobs" in a call to a Port Authority official, who made a note of it. It was among the documents released last week.
People weren't just late for work due to the disruption.
School buses and emergency vehicles were also delayed by an action that has led to multiple investigations of the administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Some of the governor's top appointees orchestrated the lane closings, apparently as a type of retribution against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, documents have shown.
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," wrote Gov. Chris Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly to David Wildstein, the Port Authority's director of interstate and capital project, who complied.
Real traffic engineering is a meticulous, safety-focused undertaking with some powerful software tools to work with.
"You certainly do not have to close lanes physically," said Joseph Hummer, chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept. at Wayne State University. The impact of a lane closure can be modeled. Those models are accurate in the short-term, plus or minus a couple of percent, on measures such as travel time and delay, he said.
There is software available to project traffic changes 30 years out and give "good enough" answers for long-range planning purposes.
The most accurate tools, for microscopic analysis, includes equations for measuring the traffic flow of individual vehicles, which is something that gets to driver behavior, said Hummer.
A microscopic analysis can simulate when a driver changes lanes, speeds-up, slows down, how close do they follow the car in front of them, and the speed at which they follow, among other variables. It can update measurements every one-tenth of a second, said Hummer.
It is expensive software to run and is only used on big projects -- such as lane closures. The economic cost of the New Jersey lane closures more than justifies its use, Hummer says.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The value of smarter oil and gas fields With global energy requirements continuing to rise, the exploration, development and production of new oil and gas resources are shifting to increasingly challenging...
- Smarter Environmental Analytics Solutions: Offshore Oil and Gas Installations Example This IBM Redbooks® Solution Guide describes a solution for implementing smarter environmental monitoring and analytics for oil and gas industries. The solution implements...
- Piecing Together the Business Intelligence Puzzle Business intelligence (BI) technology collects and analyzes company data, delivering relevant information to corporate decision-makers in an effort to produce favorable outcomes.
- Harness IT -- An Introduction to Business Intelligence Solutions Learn the key selection criteria required to provide your organization with the capability to address structured data, unstructured data and mobile demands so...
- Live Webcast Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing...
- The Software-Defined Data Center: Is your ADC ready? Data center transformation is accelerating beyond virtualization to next-generation cloud architectures and software-defined data centers, bringing new challenges for application performance, scalability and...
- Application Acceleration: Optimize the End-User Experience Watch this on-demand webcast and learn how you can optimize your web content, accelerate performance across any device and browser combination, and offload... All Business Intelligence/Analytics White Papers | Webcasts