About the research
Ramp metering has been successfully implemented in many states to improve traffic operations on freeways. Studies have documented the positive mobility and safety benefits of ramp metering. However, there have been no studies on the use of ramp metering for work zones. This report documents the results from the first deployment of temporary ramp meters in work zones in the United States. Temporary ramp meters were deployed at seven urban short-term work zones in Missouri. Safety measures such as driver compliance, merging behavior, and speed differentials were extracted from video-based field data. Mobility analysis was conducted using a calibrated simulation model and the total delays were obtained for under capacity, at capacity, and over capacity conditions. This evaluation suggests that temporary ramp meters should only be deployed at work zone locations where there is potential for congestion and turned on only during above-capacity conditions. The compliance analysis showed that non-compliance could be a major safety issue in the deployment of temporary ramp meters for under-capacity conditions. The use of a three-section instead of a traditional two-section signal head used for permanent ramp metering produced significantly higher compliance rates. Ramp metering decreased ramp platoons by increasing the percentage of single-vehicle merges to over 70% from under 50%. The accepted-merge-headway results were not statistically significant even though a slight shift towards longer headways was found with the use of ramp meters. Mobility analysis revealed that ramp metering produced delay savings for both mainline and ramp vehicles for work zones operating above capacity. On average a 24% decrease in total delay (mainline plus ramp) at low truck percentage and a 19% decrease in delay at high truck percentage conditions resulted from ramp metering.