Researchers at the University of Illinois are using an advanced computer model to study the effects that Hurricane Sandy had on traffic in New York City when the storm rolled through in October 2012. Early results indicate that gridlock was the worst when residents began returning to the city after the storm passed.
The study, conducted out of the university’s department of civil and environmental engineering, monitors traffic through taxi travel data provided by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Data from the previous four years—totaling nearly 700 million hours—was analyzed first to establish baseline traffic patterns. The primary algorithm then calculated the historical distribution of pace, or normalized travel times, around the city; the effects of Hurricane Sandy were measured by calculating deviations from the normal pace.
While the research is still a long way from suggesting specific, actionable traffic-management improvements, one early finding indicates more time and resources should be devoted to the re-entry process, as that was when traffic was at its worst.
The Illinois research team intends to publish its full findings in the Conference Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board in January.