Turning a Traffic Trickle Into a Stream

By Marcia Faye
Excerpt from full article in iitmagazine

Whether you drive or take public transportation, your synthetic composite counterpart is also traveling on Zongzhi Li’s desktop computer. With travel and traffic information gathered from census, survey, and field data, Li, an associate professor of transportation engineering at IIT Armour College of Engineering, is formulating the daily comings and goings—an estimated 28.5 million trips—of some 9.7 million people in the Chicago metropolitan area. His work is part of a next-generation transportation planning, traffic operations, and evacuation planning and emergency management project.

The development of a large-scale activity-based Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS) toolbox was initiated in the early 1990s at Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of the vision of the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. TRANSIMS originally aimed to assist transportation planners in determining if a possible transportation plan would meet multimodal transportation infrastructure, mobility, safety, energy consumption, and air-quality standards in an area. It quickly became an effective tool for simulating normal and emergency travel conditions as well as helping transportation leaders make the most cost-effective investment decisions.

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