Planning and Systems Analysis

The Center for Transportation Analysis does specialty research and development in transportation planning and systems analysis.

The implications of major investments in transportation infrastructure and services require careful evaluation in order to assess the true benefits and costs of initiating specific regional development policies. Whether applied locally, regionally, or nationally, effective decision-making begins with sound estimates of the current and future demand for such facilities and services. This includes the estimation of trip purpose and land use-specific passenger and freight trip frequencies, origin-to-destination trip volumes, facility specific travel costs, and their associated levels of traffic congestion.

ORNL has extensive expertise in developing and applying spatial decision support systems to such traffic forecasting and associated infrastructure investment studies. This expertise spans and often combines statistical and econometric modeling with micro-simulation and optimization methods, and has been applied across all of the major modes of transportation (highway, rail, water, air, pipeline, intermodal), and at the local and large regional as well as fully national scale. This includes traditional transportation planning studies as well more specialized uses of similar methods and models, notably in regional evacuation studies, hazardous materials routing studies, and in critical link analysis studies in support of threat mitigation and other network security objectives.

Recent projects have made contributions to the development and application of more accurate and comprehensive benefit-cost analysis frameworks, and to the study of traffic congestion, notably around major intermodal passenger and freight terminals. In support of these generally applied studies recent theoretical research has focused on developing new methods for tracing domestic and international freight movements through complete product supply chains.

ORNL has also been a national leader over the past three decades in developing, adapting, applying and disseminating a set of national and North American multimodal transportation network databases. Use is made of the latest GIS tools in developing decision support software.

Primary Contact:

Focus Areas:

  • Multimodal National and International Transportation Network Representations
  • Multimodal Traffic Routing Studies and Congestion Analysis
  • National and Regional Traffic Estimation and Forecasting
  • Regional Network Investment and Design Studies
  • Alternatives Analysis: Decision Support Tools
  • Regional Evacuation Modeling and Simulation
  • Sustainable Transportation Studies
  • Urban and Regional Transportation Planning Methods and Models
  • Direct and Indirect Benefit-Cost Analysis
  • Network accessibility, robustness and vulnerability analysis.

Recent Work:

  • Projects for the US Army Corps of Engineers, 2002:
    • Enhancement and Validation of the Ohio River Navigation Investment Model
    • Estimation of the Economic Impacts of Improved Waterway Access for the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway.
    • Assessment of Lock Transit Curves for Use in Analyzing Traffic Congestion at Upper Mississippi and Illinois River Locks.
  • Projects for the Federal Highway Administration, 2002:
    • National Freight and Passenger Network Flows and Transportation System Capacity Analysis (with Battelle Memorial Institute).
  • Projects for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2002
    • Mode-Distance Computations for the 2002 US Commodity Flow Survey
  • Projects for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (Office of Public Transportation):
    • Assessing The Future Demands for and Measuring The Benefits of Public Transit in Tennessee.
  • National Science Foundation Project:
    • Enterprise-wide Simulation and Analytical Modeling of Comprehensive Freight Movements (with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst).

Some R&D Software Products (principal sponsoring agency):

  • National Highway Planning Network Version 1.0 (DOT)
  • ORNL/MOBCON National Highway Routing Network (DOD)
  • Multimodal North American and Trans-Global Truck-Rail -Waterway Commodity Flow Network (DOT)
  • INTERLINE National Rail Traffic Routing Algorithm (DOE)
  • MOBCON (Mobilization Control) Convoy Traffic Routing System (DOD)
  • National VMT Forecasting Models and National, Multimodal Freight Traffic Activity Estimates (DOT)
  • MIO- US and Canadian Ports and Counties Maritime Interregional Input-Output Model (DOD)
  • NETPEM -- HOV lane simulation and evaluation software (DOE)
  • IDAS - ITS Deployment Analysis System (Project Management) --- MPO sketch planning software for benefit-cost analysis of ITS projects (DOT).
  • HNDES - Highway Network Design and Evaluation System (DOT)
  • ORNIM - Ohio River Navigation Investment Model (DOD)
  • OREMS (Oak Ridge Evacuation Modeling System) (FEMA, DOD)
  • DYMOD dynamic traffic assignment model for use in evacuation simulations (FEMA)
  • DELTA: Dynamic Ecological Land Tenure Analysis (micro-simulation) model (DOE )
  • Statewide Public Transit Benefits Spreadsheet (Tennessee DOT)
  • IBET – Intermodal Bottleneck Evaluation Tool (for the United States) (DOT)

Selected Presentations


Edition 36 of the Transportation Energy Data Book Released
The Transportation Energy Data Book (TEDB) is a compendium of data on transportation with an emphasis on energy. Designed for use as a desktop reference, the TEDB was first published in 1976 and has continued to Edition 35. The TEDB is produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

2016 Vehicle Technologies Market Report
The 2016 Vehicle Technologies Market Report was released May 25, 2017 via the web. The report details the major trends in U.S. light-duty vehicle and medium/heavy truck markets. This report is produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Numerous CTA Staff gave presentations at the DOE Annual Merit Review Meeting, June 6-10, 2016.
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) 2016 Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meetings for the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and the Vehicle Technologies Program were held June 6-10, 2016. Numerous CTA Staff presented at this event.