Improving Traffic Flow Efficiency at Motorway Lane Drops by Influencing Lateral Flows

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Abstract

Lane drops are a common bottleneck source on motorway networks. Congestion sets in upstream of a lane drop as a result of the lane changing activity of merging vehicles. This causes the queue discharge rate at the bottleneck to decrease and drop below the capacity, leading to capacity drop and further congestion. The objective of this study is to minimize the total travel
time of the system by controlling lateral flows upstream of the lane drop. This is equivalent to maximizing the exit flows at the bottleneck. An optimization problem is formulated for a 3–2 lane drop section with high inflow. The problem is solved for different test cases where the direction of lateral flows being controlled is varied. An incentive based macroscopic model
representing the natural lane changing scenario is used as a benchmark for comparison. The results showed that by influencing the lateral flows upstream of the bottleneck, the queue discharge rate increased by more than 4.5%. The total travel time of the system was consequently found to be reduced. The improvements in performance were primarily a result of the distribution of lane changing activity over space and the balancing of flow among the lanes which lead to the decrease in the severity of congestion. The findings reveal a potentially effective way to reduce the severity of congestion upstream of lane drop bottlenecks during high demand which could be implemented using roadside and in-car advisory systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Record
Volume2674
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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