All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Virginia P Sisiopiku

Advisory Committee Members

Andrew J Sullivan

Abidin Yildirim

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) School of Engineering


The traveling public is enduring traffic congestion on a regular basis which is a serious problem for the society. Congestion has negative impacts on transportation users’ convenience and satisfaction, results in lost productivity, increases stress and health related issues, has negative environmental impacts, increases fuel consumption, negatively affects travel reliability and increases travel time and delays. Traffic bottlenecks are often associated with traffic congestion. They represent a localized disruption of traffic flow due to a specific physical condition (such as insufficient roadway capacity or poor geometric design) or due to a temporary situation that restricts traffic flow such as a traffic crash or temporary lane blockage. Identifying the location and nature of traffic bottlenecks is the key part of mitigating congestion. Nowadays, more and more agencies monitor transportation network performance utilizing traffic data that they often obtain through national databases. Detailed analysis of such traffic data sets can be used to identify the location of traffic bottlenecks. The severity of such bottlenecks can then be assessed and prioritized and actions can be taken to reduce the severity and frequency of reoccurrence. Along these lines, this study utilized data from the National Performance Measure Research Data Set (NPMRDS) to identify bottlenecks in north central Alabama and specifically in five counties, namely Jefferson, Blount, Chilton, St. Clair, and Shelby. The data were provided by Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) and were integrated and analyzed using Microsoft Access and Microsoft. Travel Time Index (TTI) values were calculated for locations along selected corridors and compared against threshold values to determine bottleneck presence. ArcGIS was used to prepare maps that allowed to visualize the location of bottlenecks on the study transportation network. Using a five counties region in the state of Alabama as a case study, this work showcases how big data from the NPMRDS database can be used to study traffic congestion and identify bottlenecks in a systematic way. The results can be used by local authorities to prioritize actions and interventions for easing traffic congestion and minimizing disruption of traffic flow due to bottlenecks. Moreover, the methodology developed in this study can be used as a reference to guide efforts of other researchers and practitioners that are interested in using big data sets to better understand local and regional congestion causes and patterns.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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