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Initiatives by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to Reduce the Delay Cost Associated with Major Highway Incidents


A major incident on a 400-series highway in the Greater Toronto Area has the potential to result in significant costs related to delay with respect to both passenger and commercial travel. Such incidents might involve collisions requiring police investigation or truck roll-overs, fires, or major spills, and could result in partial or full highway closures over multiple hours. In addition, significant delay would be anticipated on “diversion” routes used by drivers to circumvent the incident, as well as delay incurred during the system recovery period once the highway has been re-opened. Since traffic flows on major highways can range from 5,000 vehicles/hour to between 10,000 and 15,000 vehicles per hour over much of the typical day, the total delay cost from a single incident can run into the millions of dollars without even considering the implications for the broader economy.
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) is in the process of reviewing response strategies to major incidents in two contexts. First, prior to the 2015 Pan Am/ParaPan Am Games, the Ministry developed traffic management plans to address major incidents affecting the highways accommodating the temporary High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes implemented for the Games. These plans were designed to be more proactive than ambient incident response protocols. The use of the plans on several occasions during the Games created a generally favourable impression of the potential to reduce the impacts of traffic incidents. Secondly, the potential benefit associated with reducing the amount of time required to clear truck roll-overs and similar incidents has been investigated. We also note that ongoing expansion of the use of advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) by the Ministry enhances the toolbox available for incident-related traffic management.
This paper describes the process used to develop more pro-active traffic management protocols for major incidents and provides an evaluation of some of the potential benefits of reducing the time required to clear truck roll-over incidents.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Goods Movement
Pringle, R.
Nikolic, G.
Transportation planning