A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads

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A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads

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University of Minnesota




Transportation network planning decisions made at one point of time can have profound impacts in the future. However, transportation networks are usually assumed to be static in models of land use. A better understanding of the natural growth pattern of roads will provide valuable guidance to planners who try to shape the future network. This paper analyzes the relationships between network supply and travel demand, and describes a road development and degeneration mechanism microscopically at the link level. A simulation model of transportation network dynamics is developed, involving iterative evolution of travel demand patterns, network revenue policies, cost estimation,and investment rules. The model is applied to a real-world congesting network – the Twin Cities transportation network which comprises nearly 8,000 nodes and more than 20,000 links, using network data collected since year 1978. Four experiments are carried out with different initial conditions and constraints, the results from which allow us to explore model properties such as computational feasibility, qualitative implications, potential calibration procedures, and predictive value. The hypothesis that road hierarchies are emergent properties of transportation networks is confirmed, and the underlying reasons discovered. Spatial distribution of capacity, traffic flow, and congestion in the transportation network is tracked over time. Potential improvements to the model in particular and future research directions in transportation network dynamics in general are also discussed.


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Zhang, Lei and David Levinson (2016) A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads. Journal of Transport and Land Use (in press)

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Zhang, Lei; Levinson, David M. (2016). A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/180072.

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