Emergency Evacuation, Lane-Based Traffic Flow, Contraflow Lane-Reversal, Heterogeneous Flows


In recent years, natural, man-made and technological disasters have been increasing in magnitude and frequency of occurrence. Terrorist attacks have increased after the September 11, 2001. Some authorities suggest that global warming is partly the blame for the increase in frequency of natural disasters, such as the series of hurricanes in the early-2000's. Furthermore, there has been noticeable growth in population within many metropolitan areas not only in the US but also worldwide. These and other facts motivate the need for better emergency evacuation route planning (EERP) approaches in order to minimize the loss of human lives and property. This research considers aspects of evacuation routing never before considered in research and, more importantly, in practice. Previous EERP models only either consider unidirectional evacuee flow from the source of a hazard to destinations of safety or unidirectional emergency first responder flow to the hazard source. However, in real-life emergency situations, these heterogeneous, incompatible flows occur simultaneously over a bi-directional capacitated lane-based travel network, especially in unanticipated emergencies. By incompatible, it is meant that the two different flows cannot occupy a given lane and merge or crossing point in the travel network at the same time. In addition, in large-scale evacuations, travel lane normal flow directions can be reversed dynamically to their contraflow directions depending upon the degree of the emergency. These characteristics provide the basis for this investigation. This research considers the multiple flow EERP problem where the network travel lanes can be reconfigured using contraflow lane reversals. The first flow is vehicular flow of evacuees from the source of a hazard to destinations of safety, and the second flow is the emergency first responders to the hazard source. After presenting a review of the work related to the multiple flow EERP problem, mathematical formulations are proposed for three variations of the EERP problem where the objective for each problem is to identify an evacuation plan (i.e., a flow schedule and network contraflow lane configuration) that minimizes network clearance time. Before the proposed formulations, the evacuation problem that considers only the flow of evacuees out of the network, which is viewed as a maximum flow problem, is formulated as an integer linear program. Then, the first proposed model formulation, which addresses the problem that considers the flow of evacuees under contraflow conditions, is presented. Next, the proposed formulation is expanded to consider the flow of evacuees and responders through the network but under normal flow conditions. Lastly, the two-flow problem of evacuees and responders under contraflow conditions is formulated. Using real-world population and travel network data, the EERP problems are each solved to optimality; however, the time required to solve the problems increases exponentially as the problem grows in size and complexity. Due to the intractable nature of the problems as the size of the network increases, a genetic-based heuristic solution procedure that generates evacuation network configurations of reasonable quality is proposed. The proposed heuristic solution approach generates evacuation plans in the order of minutes, which is desirable in emergency situations and needed to allow for immediate evacuation routing plan dissemination and implementation in the targeted areas.


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Graduation Date



Geiger, Christopher


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Industrial Engineering and Management Systems

Degree Program

Industrial Engineering








Release Date

June 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)