As highway systems become more congested, it becomes increasingly important to understand the reliability with which we can estimate important performance measures such as volume to capacity ratios, particularly as we move toward leveraging field infrastructure to obtain real-time performance measures. In 1947, Greenshields wrote a paper that characterized “green time consumed” by “car-in-line-number” that ultimately was called headway. Average headway is one of principles used by the highway capacity manual to estimate saturation flow rate at signalized intersections. However, the current analytical techniques calculate a deterministic value for saturation flow rate that does not consider the stochastic variation of saturation flow rate. This paper reviews techniques used to estimate saturation flow rate, and proposes enhanced calculation methods to group saturation flow rate estimates by queue length. Grouping saturation flow rate estimates by queue length provides a convenient framework to evaluate saturation flow rate reliability.
The inter-quartile range (25% - 75%) of saturation flow rates was calculated to be 1000vph based on Greenshields’ calculation techniques. Using the proposed enhanced calculation characterizing saturation flow rate, the inter-quartile range of saturation flow rate was shown to decrease from approximately 400 vph with 5 cars in a queue to 300 vph with 10 cars in queue. Because saturation flow rate is a fundamental input to volume-to-capacity performance measures, characterizing the stochastic variation of saturation flow rates provides a basic input for assessing how reliably one can estimate important performance measures such as volume-to-capacity ratios, as well as other performance measures that build upon volume-to-capacity ratios.
headway, traffic, flow rate, queue, high resolution data
Date of this Version
Remias, Stephen M.; Hainen, Alexander M.; Grimmer, Gannon; Davis, Alexander D.; Day, Christopher M.; Brennan, Thomas M. Jr; Sturdevant, James R.; and Bullock, Darcy M., "Leveraging High Resolution Signalized Intersection Data to Characterize Discharge Headway Distributions and Saturation Flow Rate Reliability" (2014). JTRP Other Publications and Reports. Paper 7.