Investigators

Didier M Valdes Diaz, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez Campus
Department of Civil Engineering
Michael A. Knodler, Jr., Ph.D
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Civil Engineering
Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Ph.D., P.E.
University of Central Florida
Civil Engineering

Final Report

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Final Report Summary

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Project

Phase II: Operational and Safety-Based Analyses of Varied Toll Lane Configurations

We are proposing the second phase of the Collaborative Project for the University of Central Florida, University of Massachusetts - Amherst (UMass) and University of Puerto Rico as proposed to the USDOT in the SAFER-SIM proposal under Theme Areas: 2. Traffic Operations and Safety Evaluations. The increased demand for toll and managed lanes on freeway facilities is resulting from a shortage in revenue to meet transportation needs. The increased prevalence of electronic tolling has translated into changes in toll plaza design and driver behavior models at toll plazas. Driver confusion at the toll plaza, difficult merging scenarios, and the resulting unexpected behaviors of drivers have actually increased certain crash patterns at toll plazas in some electronic tolling facilities.

At the same time, an increasing number of state DOTs are assessing the need to add High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on their facilities without compromising their existing capacities. This project aims at using driving and traffic simulation to study the specific conditions and to identify measures to improve safety, signage and operation at toll facilities. In the first phase of the project, which is underway and ending in Summer 2015, we are evaluating the operation and safety of toll plazas in Florida, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. Each of the partner universities has selected a typical plaza in their respective state, and driving simulator experiments are being designed for more in depth testing and improvements identification. The proposed second phase of the project will extend the effort to simulate other plaza designs, HOT and dynamic toll lanes. Micro Simulation will also be utilized for Dynamic Toll Lanes (DTL) evaluation. Contacts will start with International partners (e.g., Tongji and Beijing JiaoTong Universities in China and Hasselt University in Europe) for conducting similar experiments and comparisons, all with considerable simulation capabilities. We expect also recommendations of our research for toll signage to be suggested to MUTCD.