Next Generation Model for Forecasting Passenger and Freight Flows in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Transportation


Develop a best practice, policy-sensitive statewide model that enables the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve its ability to forecast passenger and freight traffic by mode along key corridors in the State.

Project Overview

Timed to coordinate with the release of the Census 2000 data and the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), the Wisconsin DOT determined that it could benefit from creating a statewide model of passenger and freight flows to:

  • Support a rigorous examination of investment alternatives;
  • Integrate policy-sensitive analysis and benefits from regional analyses;
  • Assess traffic diversion within and across statewide corridors;
  • Operate on a single software platform; and
  • Incorporate new data sources, including statewide projections to the year 2030.

Our Approach

Cambridge Systematics adopted a phased approach to model development:

  • Planning to refine the project objectives and ensure that results would support the necessary policy and investment decisions.
  • Data assessment to evaluate existing data sources and define requirements for additional data collection.
  • Model development to develop a best-practice trip generation, distribution, mode choice, and network assignment model system:
    • The statewide passenger model creates a robust simulation of intercity passenger flows in Wisconsin based on the 2001 NHTS survey and 2030 socioeconomic projections; and
    • The statewide freight model relies on nationwide freight flow data to analyze and forecast total intercity freight flows and the potential for modal shifts.
  • Training and knowledge transfer occur at project milestones as well as at its conclusion to ensure that Wisconsin DOT staff and other users know how to utilize the model for best effects.

Project Results

The expected outcome of this effort is a policy-sensitive multimodal model that will evaluate alternative investments in the state of Wisconsin. It will be used to support the decision-making process of the Wisconsin Long-Range Plan.