The Role and Benefit of Traffic Simulation in TSMO

AASHTO CTSO, ITE SimCAP Group, TRB Traffic Simulation Committee & Joint Simulation Subcommittee (SimSub) (ACP80)

Traffic simulation has steadily grown as a prominent practice in evaluating diverse and complex operational strategies. This includes many Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) applications (e.g., ramp metering, managed lanes, traffic signal prioritization, and integrated corridor management, among others). However, due to differing evolution and practitioner communities, TSMO personnel may not be fully aware nor are fully utilizing the capabilities of traffic simulation in their practice.

The intent of this webinar is to communicate the role and benefit of traffic simulation to TSMO practitioners. It will include an introductory presentation summarizing the capabilities of traffic simulation and its role in TSMO evaluation and decision-making. This is followed by several success stories utilizing traffic simulation in real-world TSMO deployments, including: (1) evaluating a predictive algorithm for a variable speed limit system in Virginia before implementation and (2) evaluating various TSMO strategies (dynamic lane and speed control, ramp metering, and hard shoulder running) along I-380 in Iowa. It concludes with an expert panel discussing how TSMO and modeling communities can bridge current gaps and collaboratively support TSMO deployment.

This webinar is envisioned to be the initial in a series of webinars showcasing traffic simulation success stories in TSMO deployments.

Target Audience

  • Wide-range of TSMO practitioners: senior managers with TSMO responsibilities, managers of specific TSMO strategies, and other TSMO operations staff.

  • Transportation engineering staff responsible for evaluation of operational strategies.

  • Modelers of traffic simulation.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the role of traffic simulation in evaluating TSMO strategies and assisting TSMO decision-making processes.

  • Highlight success stories utilizing traffic simulation in real-world TSMO deployments (and the unique benefits traffic simulation provided).

  • Describe how TSMO and modeling communities can collaborate to support TSMO.


  • Brad Freeze, Director of Traffic Operations Division (TN DOT)

  • Chris Melson, Program Manager of the Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program (Louisiana State University)


  • Mohammed Hadi, Professor (Florida International University)

  • Sanhita Lahiri, Data and System Analysis Manager (VDOT)

  • Britton Hammit , Transportation Engineer (Kimley-Horn)

  • Phil Mescher, Transportation Planner (Iowa DOT)

  • Joe Blasi Transportation Planning Engineer (HNTB)

  • Jim Sturrock, Traffic Engineer (FHWA)

Speaker Bios

Phil Mescher (Iowa DOT): Mr. Mescher is currently a Transportation Planner and Project Manager in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Project Management Bureau. A primary responsibility includes being the Project Manager for the Iowa Interstate Investment Plan and leading an internal multi-disciplinary advisory team that focuses on the maintenance and update of the Interstate Plan. Mr. Mescher also leads project development activities for several highway construction projects. Mr. Mescher began his career with the DOT in August of 1997. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning and a Master of Science degree in Transportation Planning. Mr. Mescher is also an Adjunct Lecturer in at Iowa State University where he teaches courses in transportation planning.

Brad Freeze (TN DOT): Brad Freeze, PE is the Director of Traffic Operations Division with Tennessee Department of Transportation. A TDOT employee since 2002, Brad is the Director of the TDOT Traffic Operations Division. The mission of the Traffic Operations Division is to maximize the capacity the existing roadway network in Tennessee. He is a licensed engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from UT – Knoxville. Previous to his current position in the Traffic Operations Division, Brad oversaw the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems & Traffic Signal Design projects. In addition to his TDOT responsibilities, Brad currently serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE), which was established through a partnership with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA). The NOCoE is intended to serve the emerging transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O) community, which is focused on deploying strategies and technologies to increase the safety and efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. Brad holds professional memberships with ITS Tennessee, ITS America and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He is a past President of ITS Tennessee and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Brad currently lives in Millersville, Tennessee, with his wife, Rachel, 11-year-old daughter, Eliza, and his 8-year old daughter, Emajean.

Chris Melson (Louisiana State University): Chris Melson is the Program Manager of the Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program. He previously worked for the Federal Highway Administration at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, where he developed and managed their traffic analysis, modeling, and simulation research program area. Chris currently serves as Co-Chair of the TRB Joint Simulation Subcommittee (SimSub), Co-Chair of the ITE SimCap Committee, and Chair of SimCap Louisiana.

Joe Blasi (HNTB): Joe Blasi has over 17 years of experience as a transportation planning engineer and project manager for the Kansas City office of HNTB. Mr. Blasi founded and leads the firmwide transportation planning modelers user group, which connects over 100 HNTB modelers to share modeling knowledge and experience. He was honored to be named an HNTB Associate Fellow in 2019 for his leadership of the modeling group and expertise in traffic modeling. He has three children and likes to play ultimate frisbee.

Sanhita Lahiri (Virginia DOT): Sanhita (SAN-HEE-TA) Lahiri, P.E.(Virginia and Florida), PTOE has over 24 years of research and professional experience in traffic planning, modeling, design, performance measures, and data analytics in both private and public sector, currently she is with Virginia Department of Transportation. Sanhita also Cochairs the TRB Standing committee on Traffic Simulation, and sits on different traffic operations related NCHRP Panels, as well as represents Virginia on various Transportation Pooled Fund Studies related to traffic data analytics. Sanhita's interests include Modeling and Simulation, Performance Measures, Probe and CV/AV data analytics, Travel trends, Intelligent Transportation System, Intersection Control including Alternative Intersection designs, and Policy and Guidance for Traffic Analysis.

Britton Hammit (Kimley Horn): Britton Hammit is a Transportation Engineer at Kimley-Horn of DC, primarily supporting projects related to data analytics, multi-modal planning, traffic simulation and modeling, and intelligent transport systems (ITS). Britton studied ITS at the Technical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria, where she received specialized training in traffic simulation modeling, multimodal ITS, and data analytics. Britton is passionate about bridging the gap between research and practice by identifying strategies to integrate novel approaches to traditional and new industry needs.

Mohammed Hadi (Florida International University): Dr. Mohammed Hadi, P.E. is a professor at FIU. He has about 35 years of experience (25 in academic and research institutions and 10 in the private sector) in TSMO, ITS, traffic simulation, and data analytics. Dr. Hadi has been involved in ITS and TSMO since the early days of the field in the early 1990s. He is the Co-Chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Traffic Simulation Committee. Past-chair of the Joint Simulation Subcommittee (SimSub), a member and past member of other TRB committees, and a member of ITS Florida Board of Directors.

Operations Area of Practice

  • Simulation Analysis

Organizational Capability Element

  • Reliability Predictive Models

Event Type

  • Webinar

Content Type

  • Presentation

Publishing Organization

  • NOCoE

Document Downloads

Project Website

View webinar recording on YouTube.

Issue Date
October 7th, 2021
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