Safety evaluation of work zone including its technologies using stochastic micro-simulation

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Zaier Zaidi
Essam Radwan,
Rami Harb

In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the amount of construction work on the U.S. national highways, resulting in lane closure in work zone area, causing congestion with a high traffic demand. ITS-based technology such as dynamic lane merging and variable speed limits were adopted by several states to enhance both safety and mobility of roadway work zones. Dynamic lane merging (DLM) in its two main forms namely the early merge and the late merge was designed to advise drivers on definite merging locations. Variable speed limits (VSL) were introduced to work zones to decrease speed fluctuations and to smoothen traffic through work zones. Up to date, there are no studies that contrast standalone or a combination of ITS technologies to standard work zones under matching work zone settings. This study simulates a two-to-one work zone lane closure configuration in VISSIM under six different Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) plans. The first MOT consisted of the conventional plans used in Florida work zones, the second MOT consisted of a simplified dynamic early merging system (early SDLMS), the third MOT consisted of a simplified dynamic late merging systems (late SDLMS), the fourth MOT consisted appending a VSL to the conventional Florida MOT, the fifth MOT consisted of adding a VSL to the early SDLMS, and the sixth MOT consisted of adding a VSL to the late SDLMS. From the safety point of view, early and late SDLMS performed poorly as compared to VSL and Motorist Awareness System (MAS) when higher volumes were involved, but the addition of VSL improved their safety aspect by decreasing the speed variance of the vehicles traveling in both open and a closed lane. It was concluded that the passage of traffic through a work zone is made safer when a speed control is integrated to a dynamic merge system.

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