Extended bottlenecks, the fundamental relationship, and capacity drop on freeways
This paper presents evidence that the commonly used point bottleneck model is too simplistic for freeway bottlenecks, the actual mechanism appears to occur over an extended distance. We find evidence of subtle flow limiting and speed reducing phenomena more than a mile downstream of a lane drop bottleneck. These phenomena impact the fundamental relationship, FD. Close to the lane drop the free flow regime appears to come from a "parabolic" FD, but further downstream the relationship straightens to a "triangular" FD and throughput increases. We develop a theory to explain the underlying mechanisms. These insights should help resolve the decades long debate about the shape of the FD. The phenomena also provide a mechanism that may contribute to the empirically observed capacity drop often seen at bottlenecks. Although we study a lane drop, this work should be transferable to other bottlenecks where the capacity restriction persists for an extended distance, e.g., a corridor with a fixed number of lanes and an on-ramp bottleneck.
Volume (Year): 45 (2011)
Issue (Month): 9 (November)
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