What's Happening

Map showing McKees Rocks and Downtown Pittsburgh

May 6, 2019

In September 2017, CSX Transportation began operations at its newest Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal, located in Stowe and McKees Rocks. The facility provides shippers a new transportation option to move freight to and from the region and enhances the area and the company’s competitive advantage through greater connectivity. However, studies show the development of the facility will also add to a number of trucks in and through the Borough of McKees Rocks, increasing demands on the existing infrastructure and increasing congestion to already congesting roadways.

Located along the south bank of the Ohio River just a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks & Stowe Township is home to 13,000 residents.

To study this traffic increase and possible mitigation strategies, the Borough of McKees Rocks applied for this new development and its traffic impacts to be a research project as part of Traffic21’s Smart Mobility Challenge. As a winning project, the CDC of McKees Rocks were partnered with CMU’s Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC) to conduct an in-depth analysis of the potential growing traffic impact in high temporal and spatial resolutions.

During the research, Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC) develops a large-scale regional traffic model that simulates nearly 700 thousand of trips of cars and trucks during a typical weekday. Using a variety of data sets, MAC was able to simulate individual trucks and cars and model route choices, travel time and mixed traffic flow conditions. The result includes the travel time, travel delay, vehicle-mile-traveled, fuel use and emissions for each road segment and intersection by time of day. In addition, the team examined the effectiveness of traffic management strategies in different scenarios.

During a recent project update meeting with community representatives shared that being chosen as a Smart Mobility Challenge project provided them a predictive model (that would normally be out of reach for communities like McKees Rocks) to help analyze truck traffics impacts in their community.

Although this research project focused on several particular applications such as trucks and roadway usage to demonstrate the method and leverage resources, the methodology can be applicable and scalable to other cities and regions, and to any general disruptive change to the infrastructure network. The research completed in McKees Rocks could also be of value to various groups interested in infrastructure, travel demand management, green design, environmental policies and more.

Now that the research part of the project is complete, the next steps for McKees Rocks includes a review of the research, engagement on discussions about the project results, and the provision of input for the decision makers to consider.

Learn more about this project here: https://ppms.cit.cmu.edu/media/project_files/60-final.pdf.