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The Effects of Detector Spacing on Travel Time Prediction on Freeways

Abstract

Loop detectors report traffic characteristics in real time. They are at the core of traffic control process. Intuitively, one would expect that as density of detection increases, so would the quality of estimates derived from detector data. However, as detector deployment increases, the associated operating and maintenance cost increases. Thus, traffic agencies often need to decide where to add new detectors and which detectors should continue receiving maintenance, given their resource constraints. This paper evaluates the effect of detector spacing on freeway travel time estimation. A freeway section (Interstate-15) in Salt Lake City metropolitan region is examined. The research reveals that travel time accuracy does not necessarily deteriorate with increased detector spacing. Rather, the actual location of detectors has far greater influence on the quality of travel time estimates. The study presents an innovative computational approach that delivers optimal detector locations through a process that relies on Genetic Algorithm formulation.

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