Impacts of Atmospheric Rivers in the Transportation Sector

Project Details
STATUS

Completed

PROJECT NUMBER

2020-01

START DATE

02/01/20

END DATE

05/28/21

SPONSORS

Federal Highway Administration Aurora Program Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF-5(290))

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Luca Delle Monache

Academic Program Manager, CASPO

Co-Principal Investigator
Thomas Corringham

Postdoctoral Scholar, CASPO

About the research

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are severe winter storms affecting the West Coast of the US. ARs decrease the safety of roadways, bringing heavy rainfall and winds, ice, and snow to the roads and increasing crashes, delays, and travel time.

This project included a literature review; developed a methodology to estimate the impacts of ARs on traffic, crashes, and road closures; applied the methodology to test sites in California, Colorado, and Utah; and estimated the direct costs of these impacts.

The California case study quantified the impacts of ARs on traffic volumes and vehicle miles traveled from 1996 to 2019 on I-5 from San Ysidro to the Oregon border.

The Colorado case study quantified the impacts of ARs on crashes, road closures, and delays during the severe avalanche month of March 2019 on 84 miles of I-70 west of Denver.

The Utah case study quantified the impacts of ARs on crashes, road closures, and delays from 2012 to 2019 at four sites: I-70 at Clear Creek Canyon, I-80 at Parley’s Canyon, US 6 from Spanish Fork to Helper, and US 91 from Brigham City to Wellsville.

ARs were found to have significant impacts on crashes, road closures, delays, and traffic flows.

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