Tools for Operational Planning (TOPL)

PATH has a long history of working with Caltrans to improve its operation and management of California’s roadways. Tools for Operational Planning, or TOPL, is a suite of analysis and simulation tools that enable traffic engineers to analyze major traffic corridor operational improvements such as ramp metering, incident management, arterial traffic signal control, and demand management, and to quickly estimate the benefits of such actions. TOPL is based on macroscopic freeway and arterial models that are easily assembled, self-calibrated, and self-diagnosed using traffic data, and run much faster than real time. This project is currently extending these tools so that they can be used as part of a real time Decision Support System, which will enable traffic managers to forecast short-term future traffic conditions in a freeway corridor, sound alarms for potential trouble or stress conditions, and quickly evaluate potential deployable traffic management strategies (play-book strategies) in order to select the strategies that are most likely to improve the performance and safety of the traffic corridor. TOPL researchers continue to build on previous phases of the project, enabling the team to tackle even more advanced models and traffic scenarios.