Mainstream traffic flow control at sags

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Sags are freeway sections along which the gradient changes significantly from downward to upward. The capacity of sags is considerably lower than the capacity of normal sections. Consequently, sags are often freeway bottlenecks. Recently, several control measures have been proposed to improve traffic flow efficiency at sags. Those measures generally aim to increase the capacity of the bottleneck, to prevent traffic flow perturbations in nearly saturated conditions, or both. This paper presents an alternative type of measure based on the concept of mainstream traffic flow control. The proposed control measure regulates traffic density at the bottleneck area to keep it below the critical density and hence prevent traffic from breaking down while maximizing outflow. Density is regulated by means of a variable speed limit section that regulates the inflow to the bottleneck. Speed limits are selected on the basis of a feedback control law. The authors evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed control strategy by means of a simple case study by using microscopic traffic simulation. The results show a significant increase in bottleneck outflow, particularly during periods of high demand, which leads to a considerable decrease in total delay. This finding suggests that mainstream traffic flow control strategies that use variable speed limits have the potential to improve substantially the performance of freeway networks containing sags.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2470
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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