TRAFFIC STUDY: Advanced traffic modeling tool brings detail to big picture in Virginia Beach

New system takes actual timing patterns from 371 traffic signals, simulates individual drivers

Traffic Management News Government Technology June 12, 2014
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The city of Virginia Beach, Va., has completed work on an advanced traffic-prediction computer model that can analyze the movement of individual vehicles and even predict the effect of traffic signals on congestion.


Known as the Beach model, the new tool was developed by city engineers and the Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions at Old Dominion University. It covers all primary and secondary roads across Virginia Beach; unlike other large-scale traffic models, however, Beach takes data from 371 traffic signals city-wide, to simulate the same timing patterns experienced by real drivers.


In total, Beach takes data from almost 500 locations across Virginia Beach. Historic accident trends are also incorporated into all traffic simulations. It can even take viewers through a 3D model of the city from the perspective of an individual driver.


The tool will face its first major test in the near future with an analysis revolving around the controversial proposed Southeastern Parkway and Greenbelt. The city has been trying to build the 21-mile connector between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Va., for several decades but the project has been killed repeatedly due to environmental concerns. For the analysis, Beach will run 45 tests—with each being repeated 100 times or more—to see what traffic in the area will be like in 2034 if the highway is not built.

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