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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Stop and go

By Paige Fieldsted

The basement of the Kennecott Building is a place few U students know exists. But a traffic lab located in this basement has been in operation for 12 years.

“People don’t really know we are here,” said associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Peter Martin, who organized and runs the traffic lab. “After all, we are down in a basement.”

The lab works on a variety of things from locally driven projects to international perspectives.

A project the traffic lab is currently working on is observing the high occupancy toll lane, also known as the carpool lane. Currently, drivers can buy a sticker for $50 per month that allows them to drive in the carpool lane alone.

“We are observing the effect this has on the efficiency and flow of not only the carpool lane, but general purpose lanes as well,” Martin said.

“We compare different measures of effectiveness of previous lanes and the lanes now,” said Dilya Yusufzyanova, a transportation graduate student.

Another project the traffic lab is working on involves an advanced traffic control system set up in Park City. The system picks up traffic flow in real time and adjusts the timing of the lights to make the flow of traffic smoother.

“We are trying to find the perfect combination of green time and red time,” said Jelka Stevanovic, a transportation graduate student. “You want to have as good of settings as possible.”

The traffic flow in Park City is simulated on a computer in the traffic lab where different light combinations are evaluated.

“By finding the best combination of light signals we can minimize waiting time, gas consumption and pollution entering the air,” said Changkai Zhu, a computer science graduate student.

“We are trying to help reduce delays and create good progression of traffic,” said Venkateshawar Jadhav, a transportation graduate student.

The lab has also created a computer model of I-15 from 500 North to Orem.

“This is the most accurate and sophisticated model of any stretch of freeway anywhere in North America,” Martin said. “With this model you can test ‘what if’ scenarios, and evaluate their effects on traffic flow.”

The traffic lab has been involved in many other projects in the Salt Lake area, including supervising the traffic during the Olympics and implementing TRAX.

“The delay you suffer when commuting affects where you work and live, expenses you pay, the economy and the environment,” Martin said. “We are just trying to smooth traffic flow.”

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