Commuter Control

by Doug Myhre, Assoc.; HNTB-Seattle,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 2, Pg. 44-47

Document Type: Feature article


Traffic management systems are a relatively new way to expand the capacity of existing highways and to utilize new ones realistically. Several major systems have been in place and new ones are also described. Major highway programs typically take many years from original planning through the funding and approval process and often demands exceed capacity by the time the project is complete. Using TMS, traffic managers can optimize existinghighways. A full TMS integrates a number of design elements controlled and monitored by operators in a computerized control center. Such centers are linked to devices in a computer-based communications system. Operators can anticipate congestion, fires or other emergencies and redirect vehicles. Loop detectors set into pavements at intervals detect vehicle speed, length of queues and the presence of incidents slowing traffic. Operators using the closed curcuit tv's can summon emergency assistance, control highway capacity, change lanes, change traffic lighting intervals or re-route, if necessary. Systems in Phoenix, Seattle and metropolitan Washington D.C. are described, and a brief history given for U.S. traffic management systems.

Subject Headings: Traffic capacity | Traffic management | Systems management | Vehicle-pavement interaction | Highways and roads | Highway and road management | Emergency management

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