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Ramp Metering and Freeway Bottleneck Capacity

Lei Zhang

Oregon State University

David Matthew Levinson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

January 20, 2009

Transportation Research Part A, Vol. 44, pp. 218-235, 2010

This study aims to determine whether ramp meters increase the capacity of active freeway bottlenecks. The traffic flow characteristics at 27 active bottlenecks in the Twin Cities have been studied for seven weeks without ramp metering and seven weeks with ramp metering. A methodology for systematically identifying active freeway bottlenecks in a metropolitan area is proposed, which relies on two occupancy threshold values and is compared to an established diagnostic method – transformed cumulative count curves.

A series of hypotheses regarding the relationships between ramp metering and the capacity of active bottlenecks are developed and tested against empirical traffic data. It is found that meters increase the bottleneck capacity by postponing and sometimes eliminating bottleneck activations, accommodating higher flows during the pre-queue transition period, and increasing queue discharge flow rates after breakdown. Results also suggest that flow drops after breakdown and the percentage flow drops at various bottlenecks follow a normal distribution. The implications of these findings on the design of efficient ramp control strategies, as well as future research directions, are discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: Ramp metering, Highway capacity, Active bottleneck, Queue discharge flow, Twin Cities ramp meter shut-off

JEL Classification: R40, R41

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Date posted: January 6, 2011 ; Last revised: January 22, 2011

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Lei and Levinson, David Matthew, Ramp Metering and Freeway Bottleneck Capacity (January 20, 2009). Transportation Research Part A, Vol. 44, pp. 218-235, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1735524

Contact Information

Lei Zhang
Oregon State University ( email )
Bexell Hall 200
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States
David Matthew Levinson (Contact Author)
affiliation not provided to SSRN
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