Intelligent transportation systems, Road work zones, Road work zones -- Safety measures, Traffic flow -- Management, Variable speed limits


In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the amount of construction work on the U.S. national highways. Most of the work undertaken is the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the existing transportation networks. Work zones in the United States are likely to increase in number, duration and length due to emphasis on repair and highway reconstruction as a significant portion of all federal-aid highway funds are now geared toward highway rehabilitation. The challenge of mobility is particularly acute in work zone areas as road repair and construction intensifies traffic issues and concentrates them in specific locations and at specific times. Due to the capacity drop, which is the result of lane closure in work zone area, congestion will occur with a high traffic demand. The congestion increases number and severity of traffic conflicts which raise the potential for accidents; furthermore traffic operational properties of roadway in work zone area become worse. Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies have been developed and are being deployed to improve the safety and mobility of traffic in and around work zones. In several states in the US, the use of Dynamic Merge Controls also known as Dynamic Lane Merge (DLM) system has been initiated to enhance traffic safety and to improve traffic flow in work zone areas. The DLM usually takes two forms; dynamic iii early merge and dynamic late merge. The use of variable speed limit (VSL) systems at work zones is also one of those measures. VSL systems improve safety by helping the driver in determining the maximum speed that drivers should travel. Besides adding improvement to safety, they are also expected to improve mobility at the work zones. The main goal of this study is to evaluate the safety and operational effectiveness of the dynamic merge systems i.e. the dynamic early lane merge and dynamic late lane merge, in the presence of VSL system. More specifically, the VISSIM model is utilized to simulate a twoto-one lane configuration when one out of the two lanes in the work zone is closed for traffic. Six different scenarios were adopted to assess the effectiveness of these scenarios under different traffic demand volumes and different drivers‟ compliance rates to the messages displayed by the systems. These scenarios are;  Work Zone without VSL and without SDLMS or the current Motorist Awareness System (MAS)  Work Zone with VSL and without SDLMS  Work Zone with VSL and Early SDLMS  Work Zone with VSL and Late SDLMS  Work Zone with early SDLMS and without VSL  Work Zone with late SDLMS and without VSL iv An already calibrated and validated VISSIM model for Simplified Dynamic Lane Merge System (SDLMS) in accordance with the real life work zone was modified with a VSL through Vehicle Actuated Programming (VAP) code. Three different logics were coded each for VSL alone, early SDLMS+VSL and late SDLMS+VSL. All these logics were fine tuned with several test runs before finalizing it for the final simulation. It is found through the simulation of above mentioned scenarios that for low and medium volume levels (V0500, V1000 and V1500), there is no significant difference between the Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) plans for mean throughputs. However, for higher volume levels (V2000 and V2500), late SDLMS with and without VSL produced higher mean throughputs for all compliance rates and truck percentages except when the demand volume was 2,500 vph and compliance of 60%, where it produces the significantly lower mean throughputs. In terms of travel time through the work zone, results indicated that there is no significant difference between MOT types for demand levels of V0500 and V1000 when compliance is 40% or less but for compliance of 60% and more, only demand volume level that is not significantly different from other MOT types is V0500. This study revealed that VSL increases travel time through the work zone. This might be due to non-compliant vehicles that follow the compliant vehicle v ahead unless they find a sufficient gap in adjacent lane to pass the compliant vehicle. It is also found out that VSL makes the system safer at higher volumes (2,000 vph and 2,500 vph). This was observed through safety surrogate measures selected for this study. Another outcome of this study is that the addition of VSL to the dynamic merge systems helps in improving the overall safety of the system by lowering speed variances and deceleration means of the vehicles travelling through the work zone. The passage of traffic through the work zone is made safer when a speed control is integrated to a dynamic merge system. It can be inferred from the simulation results that integrated SDLMS and VSL systems have better performance in terms of traffic mobility and safety than existing individual controls and also show that the integrated SDLMS and VSL system has more potential than each individual systems.


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Graduation Date





Radwan, Essam A.


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering








Release Date

December 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic