Project Name

Enhancing Traffic Control Systems to Reduce Emissions and Fuel Consumption

Research Team

Andrew Nichols (MU) – Email:
Brian Park (UVA) – Email:
Hesham Rakha (VT) – Email:
Montasir Abbas (VT) – Email:



US Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary

Project Dates

10/01/14 - 03/31/16

Project Description

The tasks completed within this project will address all aspects of traffic signal timing – design, optimization, deployment, and monitoring – with a focus on the reduction of emissions and fuel consumption.  The reductions will be achieved directly through the optimization of signal timing plans to minimize emissions and fuel consumption and indirectly through the improvement of emergency vehicle preemption (EVP) control by reducing travel time for the emergency vehicle and decreasing the delay for other vehicles at the intersections impacted by the EVP.  Each task will be completed by a different PI, but some information will be shared among tasks.  The study corridor for this project is a heavily congested 4-lane roadway in Morgantown, WV (WV-705).  The traffic signals along this corridor are collecting high resolution traffic data with a system managed by Marshall University.  A VISSIM simulation model of this corridor will also be utilized in this research for various tasks.  Each of the tasks will be integrated through the use of the common study corridor.

Task 4. Investigating Advanced Controller Settings to Minimize Emissions and Fuel Consumption (Park)

In the US, there are more than 300,000 traffic signals. Among these, more than 90% of signals are being operated under actuated control. However, none of existing off-the-shelf optimization tools optimize the impact of advanced controller settings including extension time, detector recall mode, dual entry, simultaneous gap out, etc. The objective of this task will be to investigate these advanced controller settings in terms of its emissions and fuel consumption as well as mobility measures. This effort will also utilize the high resolution data from Task 1 and supplemented with simulation runs for the WV-705 corridor existing signal timing plans. This task will also consider utilizing either software-in-the-loop or hardware-in-the-loop simulation to emulate/implement actual traffic controllers. The SILS/HILS equipment available at the Traffic Operations Lab. at the University of Virginia will be utilized in this task.

Expected benefits and impacts

Task 4. Preliminary guidelines providing how to set advanced controller settings to minimize fuel consumption and emissions at intersections


Potential implementation of project outcomes

The WV-705 corridor in Morgantown, WV will be used as the study corridor.  Actual data being collected by the signal system will be utilized in this research.  A VISSIM simulation model exists of this same corridor, which emulates the field operation through software-in-the-loop.  Modifications to existing EVP parameters and signal timing plans will be evaluated in the simulation environment.  Marshall University manages this signal system, so these modifications could be deployed in the field if the simulation performance is positive.

Guidelines from the research will be published in a final report and research papers to facilitate practitioners’ use of the research outcomes.