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Optimizing Road Capacity and Type

  • Kenneth Small

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)

  • Chen Feng Ng

    ()

    (Department of Economics, California State University at Long Beach)

We extend the traditional road investment model, with its focus on capacity and congestion as measures of capital and its utilization, to include free-flow speed as another dimension of capital. This has practical importance because one can view free-flow speed as a continuous proxy for road type (e.g. freeway, arterial, urban street). We derive conditions for optimal investment in capacity and free-flow speed, and analyze the optimal balance between the two. We then estimate cost functions for capital and user costs and apply the resulting model using parameters representing large US urban areas. We show that providing high free-flow speed may be quite expensive, and there is sometimes a tradeoff between it and capacity. We find suggestive evidence that representative freeways in most large urban areas provide too high a free-flow speed relative to capacity, thus making the case for reexamination of typical design practice.

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File URL: http://www.economics.uci.edu/files/docs/workingpapers/2012-13/small-09.pdf
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Paper provided by University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 121309.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irv:wpaper:121309
Contact details of provider: Postal: Irvine, CA 92697-3125
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Web page: http://www.economics.uci.edu/

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  1. Wilson, John D., 1983. "Optimal road capacity in the presence of unpriced congestion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 337-357, May.
  2. Kraus, Marvin, 1981. "Scale economies analysis for urban highway networks," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-22, January.
  3. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1990. "Economics of a bottleneck," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 111-130, January.
  4. Ng, Chen Feng & Small, Kenneth, 2011. "Tradeoffs among Free-flow Speed, Capacity, Cost, and Environmental Footprint in Highway Design," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1nz5904j, University of California Transportation Center.
  5. Li, Daifeng & Ding, Ying & Shuai, Xin & Bollen, Johan & Tang, Jie & Chen, Shanshan & Zhu, Jiayi & Rocha, Guilherme, 2012. "Adding community and dynamic to topic models," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 237-253.
  6. Vickrey, William S, 1969. "Congestion Theory and Transport Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 251-60, May.
  7. Vernon Henderson, J., 1992. "Peak shifting and cost-benefit miscalculations," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 103-121, March.
  8. Daganzo, C. F. & Cassidy, M. J. & Bertini, R. L., 1999. "Possible explanations of phase transitions in highway traffic," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 365-379, June.
  9. Keeler, Theodore E & Small, Kenneth A, 1977. "Optimal Peak-Load Pricing, Investment, and Service Levels on Urban Expressways," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 1-25, February.
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