Unjamming Traffic in St Louis

February 11, 2013
Civil Engineering, Parks Today Magazine, Research


By integrating innovative information technology strategies with traditional transportation engineering, Yao-Jan Wu, Ph.D., is helping the Missouri Department of Transportation relieve traffic bottlenecks in the St. Louis region.

He is archiving real-time traffic data in his Smart Transportation Lab and devising a program to convert the data into a travel time information system that MoDOT can use to enact effective traffic management strategies. Currently a pilot study is being completed on highway I-64, the project scope will expand to include the entire St. Louis freeway network in 2013.

A second project for MoDOT involves using GIS-based crash data to identify ‘hot spots,’ or locations with high-potential accident risks. Wu is completing a statistical accident analysis to help MoDOT identify factors that contribute to crashes.

“My travel time estimation project allows me to teach students how the traffic data can be collected, either manually or automatically, and how we determine the performance of highways and arterial streets using up-to-date traffic sensing technologies,” Wu said. “I am able to use this work as examples in my Traffic Engineering class.”

Working with Metro Transit—St. Louis, Wu is analyzing several years of ridership data gathered from fare boxes to identify how the quality of transit data can be improved to more accurately reflect rider behavior on the region’s MetroLink light rail system and MetroBus vehicle fleet. Having this more accurate data will improve Metro’s ability to estimate the organization’s annual revenue and to plan future routes.

Wu also is advising students who are creating a data portal that will enable the public to access details about the planning simulation models that SLU is developing as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s grant to facilitate a more sustainable future for St. Louis.

His research interests encompass the fields of traffic safety, intelligent transportation systems, large-scale network analyses and sustainable transportation systems.

“My role is to act as a bridge between IT and transportation engineering, connecting the two fields so we can do a better job of managing our transportation infrastructure.”
- Yao-Jan Wu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Transportation Engineering

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