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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

Month Degree Awarded



Work Zones, Travel Delay, Simulation Models


About 20 percent of the U.S. National Highway System is under construction during the peak summer roadway season. Fifty percent of all highway congestion is attributed to nonrecurring conditions and work zones are estimated to account for nearly 24 percent of nonrecurring delay. Work zones account for two percent of roadway crashes and more than 1,000 fatalities per year.

Motorists across the United States have increasingly voiced their displeasure with work zones and the associated delay. This has posed a challenge to transportation officials and contractors as they are faced with finding ways to reduce work zone delay. A key to addressing this challenge to minimize motorist delay during construction and maintenance operations is to recognize these impacts well in advance. In order to meet this challenge, work zone strategy evaluations are necessary to understand the type, severity, and extent of impacts associated with various strategies. One major tool used to aid in conducting these evaluations is computer simulation.

There are many simulation packages in existence, some of which are designed specifically for work zone analysis. These packages include, for example, QUEWZ, QuickZone, and CA4PRS. This research focuses on the evaluation of these three simulation packages along work zones located on four interstate highway segments on I-91 and I-95 in New England. The evaluation consists of comparing simulation results to field observations in the work zones. The queue lengths estimated by QuickZone and QUEWZ are compared to queue lengths observed in the work zone. Maximum rehabilitation production rates estimated by CA4PRS will be compared to actual production rates recorded in the work zone. This evaluation will allow for a determination to be made as to whether or not these simulation packages produce accurate estimates. In addition to accuracy, the evaluation also sheds light on the user-friendliness of each simulation model as well as other parameters such as data requirements and analysis time. Major results of this evaluation include:

• QUEWZ and QuickZone are user-friendly work zone simulation models.

• The estimations of queue length provided by QuickZone and QUEWZ for the four sites considered in this research were found to be comparable to the field observations.

• CA4PRS is a user-friendly simulation model. However, the data required to perform an analysis is not as always easy to obtain. In addition, these simulated results of maximum rehabilitation production rates are not easily compared to observed data which are not typically available.

This research should be helpful to guide state and local officials in New England in the selection of simulation models to assess work zone strategies for roadway reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in New England.


First Advisor

John Collura