The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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The network kinematic waves model: A simplified approach to network traffic

TitleThe network kinematic waves model: A simplified approach to network traffic
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsNi D, Leonard JD, Williams BM
JournalJournal of Intelligent Transportation Systems: Technology, Planning, and Operations
Start Page1
Date Published08/2006
KeywordsFreeway Networks, ITS, Kinematic Waves, Macroscopic Model, Traffic simulation

Flow of traffic on freeways and limited access highways can be represented as a series of kinemetic waves. Solutions to these systems of equations become problematic under congested traffic flow conditions, and under complicated (real-world) networks. A simplified theory of kinematics waves (KWaves) was previously proposed. Simplifying elements includes translation of the problem to moving coordinate system, adoption of triangular speed-density relationships, and adoption of restrictive constraints at the on- and off-ramps. However, these simplifying assumptions preclude application of this technique to most practical situations. By directly addressing the limitations of the original theory, this article proposes a simplified Kwaves model for network traffic (N-KWaves). Several key constraints of the original theory are relaxed. For example, the original merge model, which gives full priority to on-ramp traffic, is relaxed and replaced with a capacity-based weighted queuing (CBWFQ) merge model. The original diverge model, which blocks upstream traffic as a whole when a downstream queue exceeds the diverge, is also relaxed and replaced with a contribution-based weighted splitting (CBWS) diverge model. Based on the above, the original theory is reformulated and extended to address network traffic. Central to the N-KWaves model is a five-step computational procedure based on a generic building block. It is assumed that a freeway network can be represented by the combination of some special cases of the generic building block. An empirical field study showed satisfactory results. The N-KWaves model is best suited for modeling traffic operation in a regional freeway network and has a strong connection to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).