Capt. John Riester, Jr.
Department Head

P: (540) 464-7331
F: (540) 464-7618

Virginia Military Institute
609 Nichols Hall
Lexington, VA  24450

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Current And Past Research

Work Zone Traffic Control and Operations

The “Joint Merge” is a new traffic control design that facilitates alternating merge patterns between two arriving traffic streams. The key feature of the Joint Merge design is its two-sided taper in which both approach lanes are reduced simultaneously into a single lane, thereby, eliminating an assigned lane priority. This is thought to improve traffic operations by reducing queue lengths, improving driver satisfaction, increasing capacity and decreasing the need for excessive weaving.

Joint Merge

Automated Flagging Devices

Automated flagging devices are of particular interest to workers who operate in work zones. Most consist of a stop/slow paddle, signs and lights mounted to a portable trailer. The AFDs can be remotely controlled and inform approaching drivers when it is safe to travel through a work area. One of the main benefits of the AFD is that it frees workers (that might otherwise be manually flagging vehicles) from hazardous areas of high traffic. Additionally, more workers are able to devote attention to construction related tasks and improve efficiency.

Modeling Small-Scale Vehicle Emissions

While the anticipated spike in transportation facilities is exciting to some, the underlying effect of this increase is not getting as much attention. An increase in travel lanes will result in more usage and most likely increase vehicular emissions within a particular area. Vehicle emissions expel a portion of the following pollutants already in the atmosphere: carbon dioxide CO2, carbon monoxide CO, nitrous oxides NOx, sulfuric oxides SOx, and particulate material PM2.5. Of these, CO2 is the most heavily produces by roadway vehicles. The extent to which these pollutants affect individual neighborhoods or small localities is unknown since most emission measurements are taken at stationary towers whose area of measurement may not extend to the area of analysis, nor may it be representative of the area since the emission footprint groups all observed data into one output. Thusly, the real health threat associated with traffic increases near communities cannot be accurately projected without measurements specific to that area.


Personality Traits and Travel Behavior

The future and quality of transportation infrastructures rely heavily on the predictability of travel. To date, it is not fully understood how travel decisions are affected by personality or if personality is a viable option for predicting immediate travel, but the ability to grasp and apply this concept could lead to reliable predictions of real-time travel. Imagine being able to use a low-cost personality inventory to predict how the traveling public responds to an unexpected event such as a car crash or snowstorm. Now imagine using that information to estimate when and where congestion is likely to occur. Research on these possibilities is currently underway.

Innovative Roadway Alignments  

Sometimes small cities outgrow the transportation facilities available to them. Traffic officials have tried to control for this by optimizing signal timing and increasing the number of lanes. However, these adjustments are not expected to fully address the growing problem and are sometimes limited by existing space. Although the main corridors, traveled by many during peak hour, were designed to serve as minor arterial roadways, many serve volumes suitable for major arterials. Thus, properly managing them is of high priority. Intersections are a key concern since they are areas of high conflicting movements where two or more roadways meet. In recent times, intersections, and the roadways leading to them, have been modified using innovative design techniques. Researchers and designers alike are continually developing and evaluating these innovative designs.

Jordan Roundabout