First Advisor

Roy W. Koch

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Express highways -- Computer simulation, Traffic engineering -- Computer simulation, Electronic traffic controls -- Computer simulation



Physical Description

3, xiii, 215 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


One of the most effective measures of congestion control on freeways has been ramp metering, where vehicle entry to the freeway is regulated by traffic signals (meters). Meters are run with calibrated influx rates to prevent highway saturation. However, recent observations of some metering sites in San Diego, CA indicate that metering, during peak hour demand, is helping freeway flow while sometimes creating considerable traffic back-ups on local streets, transferring congestion problems from the freeway to intersections. Metering problems stem largely from the difficulty of designing an integrated, dynamic metering scheme that responds not only to changing freeway conditions but also to fluctuating demand throughout the ramp network; a scheme whose objective is to maintain adequate freeway throughput as well as minimize disproportionate ramp delays and queue overspills onto surface streets. Simulation modeling is a versatile, convenient, relatively inexpensive and safe systems analysis tool for evaluating alternative strategies to achieve the above objective. The objective of this research was to establish a basic building block for a discrete system simulation model, ONRAMP, based on a stochastic, mesoscopic, queueing approach. ONRAMP is for modeling entrance ramp geometry, vehicular generation, platooning and arrivals, queueing activities, meters and metering rates. The architecture of ONRAMP's molecular unit is designed in a fashion so that it can be, with some model calibration, duplicated for a number of ramps and, if necessary, integrated into some other larger freeway network models. SLAM.II simulation language is used for computer implementation. ONRAMP has been developed and partly validated using data from eight ramps at Interstate-B in San Diego. From a systems perspective, simulation will be short-sided and problem analysis is incomplete unless the other non-technical metering problems are explored and considered. These problems include the impacts of signalizing entrance ramps on the vitality of adjacent intersections, land use and development, "fair" geographic distribution of meters and metering rates throughout the freeway corridor, public acceptance and enforcement, and the role and influence of organizations in charge of decision making in this regard. Therefore, an outline of a contextual systems approach for problem analysis is suggested. Benefits and problems of freeway control via ramp metering, both operational short-term and strategic long-term, are discussed in two dimensions: global (freeway) and local (intersection). The results of a pilot study which includes interviews with field experts and law enforcement officials and a small motorist survey are presented.


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