For my Highway Safety graduate level course at NC State, I conducted a field study at the intersection of Glenwood Ave and Peace St in Raleigh, NC. The study evaluated the current status of field conditions, conflicts, previous collision reports, and recommended a few counter measures that might reduce conflicts at the intersection.
I’m really enjoying the class. If you’re interested in reading the study, I’ve attached it to this post.
This morning I attended a virtual workshop seminar hosted by the ITE entitled “Traffic Demand Forecasting”. Focused on local modeling and surveys taken by transportation engineers, the workshop was very informative on what models and tools are currently being used and their effectiveness.
One piece of information that I thought was especially useful was the detailed focus of the “4-Step Method”. We all learned it in school: Generation, Distribution, Mode Choice (split), and Assignment. But it never occurred to me that one can obtain a pretty good (and quick) estimate by eliminating Mode Choice completely in an area with little public transportation. Ehem, paging North Carolina.
Another thing that didn’t occur to me was the concept of “blind spots” in traffic analysis. Sure it may seem easy to assign average annual daily traffic to a specific route, but route directness never seems to come up (how direct a route really is). Or how about sidewalk completeness. These are things that are hard to factor and difficult to anticipate.
Very informative seminar overall. Thanks ITE!
With the technology we’ve had up to today, it’s been very difficult to account for the weathering of our bridges, buildings, and other structures. State Departments of Transportation spend millions of dollars every year in testing, but current methods include many assumptions and are not always accurate. Thus accidents happen like the collapse of the Minneapolis I-35 Bridge that crosses the Mississippi.
New sensors to monitor performance are starting to become more common, but they only help if the sensor is placed at the source of a potential problem. I remember when I was working at the Constructed Facilities Laboratory at NC State, we would place sensors on key areas of beams and columns and test them for failure. Fortunately, we knew where each column and beam would fail, but bridge-systems are slightly more complicated.
New funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Michigan DOT is being spent on next-generation monitoring systems like “skins”. These skins can be painted on or exist in a layer of concrete. New wireless technology will help bring the cost of these systems down significantly, and wireless sensors have performed well in the East. You can read the full article that goes further in depth at Scientific American.