C. Chou, E. Miller-Hooks, I. Promisel

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Pages: 81-96

In the United States, it is estimated that nearly 60% of non-recurrent freeway congestion is caused by incidents. This non-recurrent congestion negatively impacts safety and mobility, and results in unnecessary use of fuel and the emission of dangerous pollutants. Incident management programs, such as Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) programs, are employed nationwide to mitigate the impact of incidents. FSP programs are subject to public scrutiny and potential cancellation. Thus, numerous states seek to prove that the benefits of their FSP programs outweigh their costs. In this paper, a simulation-based methodology is employed to estimate the benefits of such a FSP program, the Highway Emergency Local Patrol (H.E.L.P.) program, operating within New York State. The average reduction in incident duration due to the execution of the H.E.L.P. program was estimated through a statistical comparison of incident durations resulting from response by troopers or H.E.L.P. vehicles. Hundreds of incidents that arose along a roadway segment were replicated and benefits in terms of reduced travel delay, fuel consumption, emissions, and secondary incidents were estimated. The monetary equivalent of these savings was computed to obtain an estimate of the benefit-to-cost (B/C) ratio. A set of B/C ratios are provided for a range of average incident duration savings. Sufficient detail is given to permit comparable FSP programs operating on roadways with similar geometric characteristics to that considered in the study to complete such estimates for their own programs.

Keywords: freeway operations; incident management; benefit-to-cost ratio