Evaluation of Coordinated Ramp Metering (CRM) Implemented by Caltrans

Coordinated ramp metering (CRM) is a critical component of smart freeway corridors that rely on real-time traffic data from ramps and freeway mainline to improve decision-making by the motorists and Traffic Management Center (TMC) personnel. CRM uses an algorithm that considers real-time traffic volumes on freeway mainline and ramps and then adjusts the metering rates on the ramps accordingly for optimal flow along the entire corridor. Improving capacity through smart corridors is less costly and easier to  deploy  than  freeway  widening  due  to  high  costs  associated  with  right-of-way  acquisition  and construction.  Nevertheless, conversion to smart corridors still represents a sizable investment for public agencies. However, in the U.S. there have been limited evaluations of smart corridors in general, and CRM in particular, based on real operational data. This project examined the recent Smart Corridor implementation on Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Bay Area and State Route 99 (SR-99, SR99) in Sacramento based on travel time reliability measures, efficiency measures, and before-and-after safety evaluation using the Empirical Bayes (EB) approach. As such, this evaluation represents the most complete before-and-after evaluation of such systems. The reliability measures include buffer index, planning time, and measures from the literature that account for both the skew and width of the travel time distribution. For efficiency, the study estimates the ratio of vehicle miles traveled vs. vehicle hour traveled. The research contextualizes  before-and-after  comparisons  for  efficiency  and  reliability  measures  through  similar  measures  from another corridor (i.e., the control corridor of I-280 in District 4 and   I-5 in District 3) from the same region, which did not have CRM implemented. The results show there has been animprovement in freeway operation based on efficiency data. Post-CRM implementation, travel time reliability measures do not show a similar improvement. The report also provides a counterfactual estimate of expected crashes in the post-implementation period, which can be compared with the actual number of crashes in the “after” period to evaluate effectiveness.

University: 

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University

Principal Investigator: 

Anurag Pande, Ph.D.

PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San Jose, CA 95112
apande@calpoly.edu

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

California Department of Transportation - $82,096

Total Project Cost: 

$82,096

Agency ID or Contract Number: 

65A0660

Dates: 

January 2019 to April 2020

Project Number: 

1812