The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Grant No. 1760971 and by the National Institute for Congestion Reduction (NICR), a University Transportation Center. We thank Associate Editor Michael Zhang for his helpful comments in readying the paper for publication.
Two new synchronization strategies are developed for signalized grids of two-directional streets. Both strategies are found to reduce congestion significantly more than do other approaches. One of the strategies is static and the other adaptive. Both use a common timing pattern for all signals on the grid but use a different offset for each. The static strategy serves the morning rush by providing perfect forward progression on all streets in the directions that point toward a reference intersection, one that is located near the center of gravity of all workplaces. For the evening rush, perfect progression is achieved for all travel directions that point away from the reference intersection. The adaptive strategy toggles between this forward synchronization mode and a second mode suited for congestion, but only in a pre-determined district surrounding the reference intersection. Toggling is based on the district’s real-time traffic density.
The paper shows how to switch quickly between the two synchronization modes without resorting to unacceptably short phases. It also shows that if the grid is formed by two intersecting sets of parallel streets, even if unevenly spaced, then every street can be perfectly synchronized in one of its directions. As a result, an inbound driver in the morning, or an outbound driver in the evening, is guaranteed to encounter synchronized signals over the full length of her trip. Although this is not possible for more irregular grids, the paper shows how to modify the two strategies for this case, so that they still perform well.
The strategies were benchmarked with simulations against a fixed, zero-offset strategy for many scenarios, because zero-offsets are known to work well under congestion. In one important scenario representing a severely congested morning rush, both strategies were also benchmarked against a state-of-the-practice computer program. While the state-of-the-practice program reduced the zero-offset delay by a modest 7%, the proposed strategies reduced it by 21% (static) and 32% (adaptive); i.e., improving on the state-of-the-practice program by 14% and 25%. These improvements considerably exceed the 1% to 5% reductions typically reported in the literature for other state-of-the-art methods that have been compared with state-of-the-practice programs. Similarly good results were obtained for the other scenarios, which included the morning and evening rushes, various distributions of workplaces, and both regular and irregular grids.