American Society of Civil Engineers

A Method to Develop and Optimize the Placement of Road Barriers in Emergency Evacuation for University Campuses

by Hubo Cai, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, (Assistant Professor, Division of Construction Engineering and Management, School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47905. E-mail: and Asadur Rahman, (Former Master’s Student, Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008. E-mail:
Section: Disaster Planning and Mitigation, pp. 409-419, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Construction Research Congress 2010: Innovation for Reshaping Construction Practice
Abstract: Disasters such as earthquakes and floods are sudden events that are difficult to predict, but have catastrophic consequences. A critical issue in disaster management is timely evacuation. University campuses face a unique challenge in developing effective emergency evacuation plans due to the complex site and high-dense buildings and population. This paper presents a method to optimize the placement of road barriers in emergency evacuation and assess the effectiveness via simulation. The main campus of the Western Michigan University (WMU) was chosen to implement and test the developed method. The placement of road barriers was optimized and the results were validated, using the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS). This system was also used to test the effectiveness of evacuation time to phased evacuation notification. It concluded that placing road barriers at appropriate locations could reduce the evacuation time by 20% or more.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Emergency management
Highways and roads