Neal Hawkinshawkins@iastate.edu email >
Associate Director, InTrans
About the research
We as researchers should continuously ask how to improve the models we rely on to make financial decisions in terms of the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of roadways. This project presents an alternative tool that will supplement local decision making but maintain a full appreciation of the complexity and sophistication of today?s regional model and local traffic impact study methodologies. This alternative method is tailored to the desires of local agencies, which requested a better, faster, and easier way to evaluate land uses and their impact on future traffic demands at the sub-area or project corridor levels. A particular emphasis was placed on scenario planning for currently undeveloped areas. The scenario planning tool was developed using actual land use and roadway information for the communities of Johnston and West Des Moines, Iowa. Both communities used the output from this process to make regular decisions regarding infrastructure investment, design, and land use planning. The City of Johnston case study included forecasting future traffic for the western portion of the city within a 2,600-acre area, which included 42 intersections. The City of West Des Moines case study included forecasting future traffic for the city?s western growth area covering over 30,000 acres and 331 intersections. Both studies included forecasting a.m. and p.m. peak-hour traffic volumes based upon a variety of different land use scenarios. The tool developed took GIS-based parcel and roadway information, converted the data into a graphical spreadsheet tool, allowed the user to conduct trip generation, distribution, and assignment, and then to automatically convert the data into a Synchro roadway network which allows for capacity analysis and visualization. The operational delay outputs were converted back into a GIS thematic format for contrast and further scenario planning. This project has laid the groundwork for improving both planning and civil transportation decision making at the sub-regional, super-project level.