Continuum signalized junction model for dynamic traffic networks: Offset, spillback, and multiple signal phases

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40 Scopus citations


This paper extends the continuum signalized intersection model exhaustively studied in Han et al. (2014) to more accurately account for three realistic complications: signal offsets, queue spillbacks, and complex signal phasing schemes. The model extensions are derived theoretically based on signal cycle, green split, and offset, and are shown to approximate well traffic operations at signalized intersections treated using the traditional (and more realistic) on-and-off model. We propose a generalized continuum signal model, which explicitly handles complex vehicle spillback patterns on signalized networks with provable error estimates. Under mild conditions, the errors are small and bounded by fixed values that do not grow with time. Overall, this represents a significant improvement over the original continuum model, which had errors that grew quickly with time in the presence of any queue spillbacks and for which errors were not explicitly derived for different offset cases. Thus, the new model is able to more accurately approximate traffic dynamics in large networks with multiple signals under more realistic conditions. We also qualitatively describe how this new model can be applied to several realistic intersection configurations that might be encountered in typical urban networks. These include intersections with multiple entry and exit links, complex signal phasing, all-red times, and the presence of dedicated turning lanes. Numerical tests of the models show remarkable consistency with the on-and-off model, as expected from the theory, with the added benefit of significant computational savings and higher signal control resolution when using the continuum model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-239
Number of pages27
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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