Penn State civil engineering paper receives D. Grant Mickle Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --  A team of Penn State civil engineers have recently received the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) D. Grant Mickle Award for their paper on transportation efficiency. The paper, titled “Improving Street Network Efficiency by Dynamically Prohibiting Left Turns at Signalized Intersections,” was the result of a project led by civil engineering assistant professor Vikash Gayah. Graduate students Anthony DePrator and Owen Hitchcock co-authored the paper with Gayah.

The D. Grant Mickle Award is given each year to the best paper submission in the area of operation and maintenance.

“I was incredibly shocked and honored to have received such a prestigious award,” Gayah said. “I think it speaks volumes about the hard work of the two student co-authors who spent countless hours running all the simulations required for this study.”

Gayah’s primary area of research focuses on large-scale, urban traffic network operations. He uses theoretical models and simulation tools to study the behavior of vehicles traveling on these networks in an effort to identify ways transportation engineers can improve operations across large networks as opposed to individual locations.

Gayah previously published two papers that compared street network operations using one-way and two-way streets. As a result of the earlier work, Gayah and his team were able to conclude that converting one-way street networks into two-way streets with restricted left turns can increase capacity.

The most recent paper builds on this conclusion and works to compare two-way street networks without left turns and with left turns allowed. The results showed that left-turn streets are successful when operating in light or heavy congestion, but in times of moderate traffic, it is more beneficial to restrict left-turn capabilities. The team proposed a new strategy that dynamically restricts left turns based on overall level of street congestion. 

TRB typically receives more than 5,000 papers for consideration at their annual meeting. Out of all 2017 submissions, the executive committee only awarded eight outstanding paper awards; Penn State faculty received two of the eight total awards. The Fred Burggraf Award went to civil engineering assistant professor Ilgin Guler for her paper on bus stops and transit signal priority.

The Certificate of Award will be presented at the TRB 97th Annual Meeting in January 2018, which will be held in Washington, D.C.

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Last Updated September 21, 2017