Quantifying the total cost of infrastructure to enable environmentally preferable decisions: the case of urban roadway design


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Quantifying the total cost of infrastructure to enable environmentally preferable decisions: the case of urban roadway design
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Gosse, Conrad A.
Clarens, Andres F.
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Institute of Physics (IOP)
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Efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation infrastructure have generally overlooked many of the efficiencies that can be obtained by considering the relevant engineering and economic aspects as a system. Here, we present a framework for quantifying the burdens of ground transportation in urban settings that incorporates travel time, vehicle fuel and pavement maintenance costs. A Pareto set of bi-directional lane configurations for two-lane roadways yields non-dominated combinations of lane width, bicycle lanes and curb parking. Probabilistic analysis and microsimulation both show dramatic mobility reductions on road segments of insufficient width for heavy vehicles to pass bicycles without encroaching on oncoming traffic. This delay is positively correlated with uphill grades and increasing traffic volumes and inversely proportional to total pavement width. The response is nonlinear with grade and yields mixed uphill/downhill optimal lane configurations. Increasing bicycle mode share is negatively correlated with total costs and emissions for lane configurations allowing motor vehicles to safely pass bicycles, while the opposite is true for configurations that fail to facilitate passing. Spatial impacts on mobility also dictate that curb parking exhibits significant spatial opportunity costs related to the total cost Pareto curve. The proposed framework provides a means to evaluate relatively inexpensive lane reconfiguration options in response to changing modal share and priorities. These results provide quantitative evidence that efforts to reallocate limited pavement space to bicycles, like those being adopted in several US cities, could appreciably reduce costs for all users.
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