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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name



Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Joseph Hummer


Since its peak in 1950, the City of Detroit has lost over a million people, nearly two

thirds of its population. Unfortunately, its transportation infrastructure has not adapted.

In 2013, Detroit had over 1500 traffic signals, many more than is necessary for a city of

700,000. Signals, once installed, are often incredibly politically difficult to remove when

they are no longer operationally needed, resulting in unnecessary expenses with the

maintenance of these signals; in the case of a city like Detroit, these expenses can be

sizeable. Thus, a methodology to objectively evaluate the removal of these unneeded

signals is beneficial for a depopulating city, like Detroit, to more efficiently operate its

transportation network.

Unfortunately, in an existing urban area, it may not be practical to remove signals

and replace them with traditional unsignalized intersections due to sight distance

restraints. It may also not be practical to rebuild such intersections due to right‐of‐way

restrictions and acquisition cost. There are alternate intersection geometries that have

typically been used at signalized intersections that may be used for unsignalized ones to

allow the removal of these unneeded signals. This research tests a mathematical model

that allows for the analysis of such a conversion that consists of two parts: a net benefit

value analysis, consisting of the benefits provided of such a conversion to travel time,

delay, maintenance and operation, runoff, and stopping versus the difference in

construction costs between the unsignalized geometry and replacement of the signal; a

pedestrian accessibility analysis, a mathematical modeling of the ability of pedestrians to

cross without signals.

Seventeen potential locations along the East Jefferson corridor were analyzed

using this model, with each location having unique proposed unsignalized geometries. For

each location, two different scenarios were tested: a “worst case”, where traffic volumes

do not change from the signalized condition, and a “best case”, where some traffic is

diverted due to the changed geometrics as determined by the California Diversion

Equation. Because of the uniqueness of each proposed design, this method is easily

applicable to any location and could be a useful tool for any transportation practitioner to


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