NMC Models Helping Local Communities See the Future
The Network Modeling Center has been busy lately helping Central Texans envision potential changes to their roadways. Using the models in the NMC toolbox, researchers Jennifer Duthie and Mason Gemar met with area stakeholders to get feedback on and allay concerns about upcoming construction projects.
In October Dr. Gemar collaborated with TxDOT and Bastrop’s city manager in presenting an approximation of two road construction projects that will impact travel patterns in Bastrop. Both TxDOT projects involve reconstructing intersections on State Highway 71, raising concerns about congestion in Bastrop during the construction. The City of Bastrop requested the NMC’s help in modeling the likely impacts on traffic in downtown Bastrop during construction and the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce arranged an open house for Bastrop citizens to view the NMC’s model results and ask questions. The model results allow the average person to visualize when and where local drivers will encounter changes to traffic flow. After the model results presentation, the TxDOT representative, Bastrop’s city manager, and Dr. Gemar took questions from the attendees.
Dr. Gemar went back to Bastrop a few weeks later to present the results to the area’s Cedar Creek Rotary Club. In 2015, the NMC will be returning to Bastrop with updates to the project.
Meanwhile, Dr. Duthie met with Austinites from neighborhoods along the central IH35 corridor (between Manor Road and US 290) about potential changes to the corridor. To address Austin’s growing population and the accompanying increase in congestion, TxDOT is planning significant strategic changes to the IH35 corridor, including construction of one new northbound and one new southbound lane. Ramp reconfigurations will accompany these new lanes to optimize frontage road operations. TxDOT enlisted the NMC’s expertise to illustrate the potential outcomes, and has been hosting open houses to get the public’s feedback on the proposed changes. One set of reconfigurations have been released that will affect the central neighborhoods on both sides of IH 35 near the Mueller Development. At this late October meeting, Dr. Duthie presented NMC model results to illustrate the travel patterns that would likely emerge given the reconfigurations. Based on the feedback from participants, TxDOT and the NMC will make some revisions and present an updated set of results in December.