Managing Traffic Impacts from Special Events for Small Cities

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Many small cities in the United States constantly face considerable traffic congestion due to traffic impacts from major special events held in their regions such as college and professional ball games, festivals, and cultural activities. Traffic volumes usually surge before and after these special events and can vary depending on the characteristics, duration, and location of the events. It is not certain whether normal signal timing plans can handle extra traffic volumes. For small cities, it becomes essential to assess the predictability, magnitude, and duration of traffic volumes during the influence period of regional special events. This paper uses a US 301 congestion mitigation project in Starke, Florida, sponsored by the Department of Florida Transportation, as a case study to present an effective process for a typical small city to develop congestion management strategies to handle traffic impacts from regional special events. This study first collected historical event schedules and locations in Starke and its nearby cities in Jacksonville and Gainesville. Next, the traffic data collected from permanent count stations near Starke between 2003 and 2006 were extracted. It then analyzed the detailed impacts of the major special events on traffic volumes along the US 301 corridor in Starke. The comprehensive analysis concluded that the traffic patterns and associated durations of most special events are predictable. Special signal timing plans can be designed and utilized to effectively handle the significant traffic impact from special events for small cities.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

ITE 2008 Annual Meeting and Exhibit, Compendium of Technical Papers, Washington, D.C., August 2008.