WATSim, Emergency, Preparedness, LOS


Emergency preparedness typically involves the preparation of detailed plans that can be implemented in response to a variety of possible emergencies or disruptions to the transportation system. One shortcoming of past response plans was that they were based on only rudimentary traffic analysis or in many cases none at all. With the advances in traffic simulation during the last decade, it is now possible to model many traffic problems, such as emergency management, signal control and testing of Intelligent Transportation System technologies. These problems are difficult to solve using the traditional tools, which are based on analytical methods. Therefore, emergency preparedness planning can greatly benefit from the use of micro-simulation models to evaluate the impacts of natural and man-made incidents and assess the effectiveness of various responses. This simulation based study assessed hypothetical emergency preparedness plans and what geometric and/or operational improvements need to be done in response to emergency incidents. A detailed framework outlining the model building, calibration and validation of the model using microscopic traffic simulation model WATSim (academic version) is provided. The Roadway network data consists of geometric layout of the network, number of lanes, intersection description which include the turning bays, signal timings, phasing sequence, turning movement information etc. The network in and around the OIA region is coded into WATSim with 3 main signalized intersections, 180 nodes and 235 links. The travel demand data includes the vehicle counts in each link of the network and was modeled as percentage turning count movements. After the OIA network was coded into WATSim, the road network was calibrated and validated for the peak hour mostly obtained from ADT with 8% K factor by comparing the simulated and actual link counts at 15 different key locations in the network and visual verification done. Ranges of scenarios were tested that includes security checkpoint, route diversion incase of incident in or near the airport and increasing demand on the network. Travel time, maximum queue length and delay were used as measures of effectiveness and the results tabulated. This research demonstrates the potential benefits of using microscopic simulation models when developing emergency preparedness strategies. In all 4 main Events were modeled and analyzed. In Event 1, occurrence of 15 minutes traffic incident on a section of South Access road was simulated and its impact on the network operations was studied. The averaged travel time under the incident duration to Side A was more than doubled (29 minutes, more than a 100% increase) compared to the base case and similarly that of Side B two and a half times more (23 minutes, also more than a 100% increase). The overall network performance in terms of delay was found to be 231.09 sec/veh. and baseline 198.9 sec/veh. In Event 2, two cases with and without traffic diversions were assumed and evaluated under 15 minutes traffic incident modeled at the same link and spot as in Event 1. It was assumed that information about the traffic incident was disseminated upstream of the incident 2 minutes after the incident had occurred. This scenario study demonstrated that on the average, 17% (4 minutes) to 41% (12 minutes) per vehicle of travel time savings are achieved when real-time traffic information was provided to 26% percent of the drivers diverted. The overall network performance in delay for this event was also found to improve significantly (166.92 sec/veh). These findings led to the conclusion that investment in ITS technologies that support dissemination of traffic information (such as Changeable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio, etc) would provide a great advantage in traffic management under emergency situations and road diversion strategies. Event 3 simulated a Security Check point. It was observed that on the average, travel times to Sides A and B was 3 and 5 minutes more respectively compared to its baseline. Averaged queue length of 650 feet and 890 feet worst case was observed. Event 4 determined when and where the network breaks down when loaded. Among 10 sets of demand created, the network appeared to be breaking down at 30% increase based on the network-wide delay and at 15% based on Level of Service (LOS). The 90% increase appeared to have the most effect on the network with a total network-wide delay close to 620 seconds per vehicle which is 3 and a half times compared to the baseline. Conclusions and future scope were provided to ensure continued safe and efficient traffic operations inside and outside the Orlando International Airport region and to support efficient and informed decision making in the face of emergency situations.


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Graduation Date





Abdel-Aty, Mohamed


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)