Evaluation of Traffic Responsive Control on the Reston Parkway Arterial Network

Report No: 09-CR6

Published in 2009

About the report:

Traffic responsive plan selection (TRPS) control is considered an effective operational mode in traffic signal systems. Its efficiency stems from the fact that it can capture variations in traffic patterns and switch timing plans based on existing traffic conditions. Most of the research performed to date has focused on either small traffic networks-with up to five intersections-or theoretical networks. Past research has also focused on the threshold mechanism implemented in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) traffic controllers. There is very limited research on the pattern-matching mechanism implemented in the 170 controllers. This report documents a new approach to generating traffic scenarios for large networks, addressing issues such as the unequal traffic distribution and the large combination of traffic movements from multiple intersections. This approach is based on the selection of significant critical movements controlling the network using statistical correlation analysis of actual detector data and the use of synthetic origin-destination analysis of the entire network. The proposed approach was applied in the design of the traffic responsive control mode for the Reston Parkway arterial network, which has 14 intersections. Detector data were used to validate the results of the proposed approach. The validation process showed that the traffic system was correctly modeled and sufficiently represented by the proposed approach. Multi-objective optimization was used to generate the final timing plans and the TRPS pattern-matching parameters. Simulation analysis revealed that implementation of the traffic responsive control mode in the Reston Parkway network can achieve an average delay reduction of 27 percent and an average stops reduction of 14 percent on weekends and an average delay reduction of 18 percent and an average stops reduction of 21 percent on regular weekdays. The methodology documented in this report should be followed to implement TRPS control on large arterials in an optimal and stable manner. Optimal and stable operation of TRPS could significantly reduce congestion while capitalizing on existing traffic control infrastructure with a 46:1 benefit-cost ratio.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Montasir Abbas, Sherif Abdelaziz, Catherine C. McGhee, P.E.

Last updated: November 23, 2023

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