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Research Abstracts Online
January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Civil Engineering

PI: Henry X. Liu

Bridge Behavioral Response to the I-35W Disruption: Gauging Equilibration

The collapse of the Interstate 35W Highway Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis resulted in immediate loss of life and serious consequences for mobility and accessibility in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. The bridge collapse provides a unique natural experiment to study two related processes as they are affected by network disruption, namely, travelers’ day-to-day learning and adaptation and traffic equilibration. Most researchers have assumed transportation demand and supply are operated in a steady state of equilibrium. The equilibration process leading to the equilibrium state is largely overlooked, however, mainly due to the limited data available under such situations. Given the network disruption of the I-35W bridge collapse, travelers were forced to learn new traffic patterns and eventually (over a period of weeks or months), network traffic may (or may not) evolve into a new equilibrium. To date, very few studies have examined the day-to-day behavioral response of travelers after a severe and unplanned network disruption. In addition, no empirical evidence can be found to support current theories regarding traffic equilibration. This project aims to fill that gap.

Group Member

Xiaozheng He, Graduate Student