Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
No-notice evacuations of metropolitan areas can place significant demands on transportation infrastructure. In preparation, emergency managers and transportation engineers study potential demands and many create evacuation traffic management plans. The findings from a St. Louis Metro East evacuation study revealed some problematic areas of the transportation network. At these locations the traffic backed up during a simulated evacuation, caused a significant amount of delay, and increased the evacuation clearance time. An emerging paradigm called Connected Vehicle (CV) technology can provide real-time communication between vehicles in a traffic stream. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the impacts of CVs on evacuation from a downtown metropolitan area. The microsimulation software VISSIM was used to model the roadway network and the evacuation traffic. The model was built, calibrated and validated for studying the performance of traffic during the evacuation. This model helped researchers to find the time required to evacuate people in this area for different disaster scenarios. Because it is unlikely that vehicles equipped with CV technologies will become commonplace soon, the researcher tested different levels of deployment, also known as penetration rate. This study included penetration rates from 0 to 30 percent CVs; evaluating the average speed, average and total delays. The findings suggest significant reductions in total delays when CVs reached a penetration rate of 30 percent or greater. Results showed that the presence of CVs at a penetration rate of 30 percent could reduce the overall traffic delay by 60 percent over the evacuation period. A sensitivity analysis was conducted and the finding showed that a 10 percent increase in the penetration rate will significantly improve traffic flow. The findings of this study suggest that the communication capabilities of CVs can reduce delays and improve the traffic flow rate during a no-notice evacuation. Additionally, the benefits could be greater for evacuations with higher volumes, evacuations that last longer, and evacuations with higher proportions of CVs in the vehicle stream.
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