What are Traffic Studies and Why are They Important

News | jlbworks

Feb 20, 2018

A traffic study is an elaborate investigation and meticulous analysis of the transportation system in a specific area, which is supported by an expansive collection of data. Usually, traffic studies are used to examine a recurring transportation problem and propose a solution that will yield less traffic and congestion in that particular area. On average, the initiation of traffic studies can be requested by a public official, local resident, or a jurisdictional staff member and are carried out by highly qualified transportation engineers. Although there are a plethora of reasons as to why a specific jurisdiction may request a traffic study in Nashville, TN, Brentwood and Franklin, TN, here are a few of the most common:

  • When new development is proposed that may generate new traffic
  • For a roadway construction project
  • To examine areas of frequent accidents
  • To examine locations with complicated roadway geometrics

 

Traffic studies play a very important role in the overall functionality of our towns and roadways. With the right team of traffic engineers, the results of a traffic study can help engineers construct different solutions for roadway design and traffic control. With these studies, the main goal is to provide drivers with a safe and efficient means of traffic movement.

Traffic studies are typically comprised of the following elements:

  • Existing traffic–including pedestrians and bikers.
  • Crash history
  • Expected developments
  • Proposed developments
  • Expected traffic growth

 

Output elements in traffic studies include:

  • Existing congestion
  • Forecasted traffic
  • Number of stopped vehicles in lanes
  • Predicted congestion lengths
  • Preventive factors for congestion and crashes:
    • Signs, markings, signals
    • Roundabouts
    • Additional lanes
    • Sidewalks
    • Bike paths
    • Lighting
    • Distance improvements

 

All of these elements are for one, specific location at a time and greatly impact the outcome of the study.

Generally, traffic studies can be priced high but usually vary depending on the reason for the study and the types of work that’s being done. However, that are a few factors that can increase the price of these studies, including: location, the amount of time it takes to complete (days, months, years), development requests, etc. Based on these factors and the variance in traffic/travel patterns, a traffic can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It truly comes down to the level of complexity of the requested traffic study. The amount of time it takes to complete a traffic study is equally as ambiguous as the cost; it all comes down to the intricacy of the study and the surrounding factors. The traffic data collection portion of the study can greatly affect the timeline of the study, since this a task that requires meticulousness and attention to detail. Additionally, weather and national holidays can slow down the completion of the study.

Once a traffic study has been completed, it will go through a final review that’s conducted by experienced and reputable transportation engineers and planners. Depending on the gathered results, either construction will be able to commence with the proper permits, or, the specific jurisdiction will have to revise their proposal in order to comply with traffic regulations and standards.