Analysis and Simulation Tools
Analysis tools support decisionmakers with credible information about how elements of the transportation system will operate under a variety of scenarios and conditions. These tools range from simple sketch-level methods to complex models. The choice of which tool to use depends upon the nature of the improvements under consideration. Regardless of the method chosen, the tool should provide objective assessments of transportation investments and performance. Applied appropriately, the tools facilitate more informed decisionmaking. The right tool will allow users to evaluate multiple scenarios and support efforts to mainstream the consideration of operations into planning practices.
A wide variety of tools has been developed and is available for use.
- Sketch planning tools
- Deterministic tools
- Travel demand forecasting models
- Simulation tools
- Archived operations data
- Operations-oriented performance measures/metrics
- Traffic signal optimization tools
More advanced analysis methods are being studied and integrated into modeling and analysis of operations including:
- Dynamic traffic assignment methods
- Multi-scenario methods
- Multi-resolution modeling
- Activity-based modeling
Dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) is defined in laymen terms as "a capability to describe how trip makers may take alternative routes when the roadway condition is different from normal condition." DTA is a type of modeling tool that combines network assignment models, used primarily in conjunction with travel demand forecasting procedures for planning applications, with traffic simulation models, used primarily for traffic operational studies. These tools support transportation network planning and traffic operations decisions, including evaluation of ITS deployment options, congestion pricing, and other operational strategies, through the use of simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment.
- Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations Case Studies
- Case Study #1 – Operations Strategy Impact Reference and Deployment Guidance (HTML, PDF 1.4MB)
- Case Study #2 – Incorporating Highway Capacity Manual Procedures into Long-Range Transportation Planning (HTML, PDF 1.4MB)
- Case Study #3 – Using Archived Data As a Tool for Operations Planning (HTML, PDF 2.8MB)
- Case Study #4 – Application of Microsimulation in Combination with Travel Demand Models (HTML, PDF 1.6MB)
- SHRP 2 Report S2-L03-RR-1: Analytical Procedures for Determining the Impacts of Reliability Mitigation Strategies
- SHRP 2 L04: Incorporating Reliability Performance Measures in Operations and Planning Modeling Tools Project Site
- SHRP 2 L05: Incorporating Reliability Performance Measures into the Transportation Planning and Programming Processes Project Site
- SHRP 2 L11: Evaluating Alternative Operations Strategies to Improve Travel Time Reliability Project Site
- Transportation Planning and Analysis Tools: Selecting the Right Tools to Optimize Outcomes
 FHWA Resource Center, Presentation, Dynamic Traffic Assignment for Transportation Planning and Operations, 2010.