Civil Engineering


Hunter, Christopher, D

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering




traffic, engineering, transportation, sustainable, sustainability, green, congestion, Rhode Island, environment


Transportation engineering is the application of technology and scientific principles to the planning, functional design, and management of facilities for any mode of transportation in order to provide for the safe, rapid, comfortable, convenient, economical, and environmentally compatible movement of people and goods. Traffic engineering is a specific segment of transportation engineering that deals with the planning, geometric design, and traffic operations of roads, streets and highways, their networks, terminals, abutting lands, and relationships with other modes of transportation. In the midst of this, is the concern for environmental compatibility, which continues to be of growing interest especially with regard to sustainable transportation. What can be done to work toward a more sustainable transportation system is a vital interest, which is driving the desire to understand how traffic engineering applications can be viewed for their ability to provide a more sustainable transportation system.

This semester, I worked with Dr. Christopher Hunter to develop a research paper exploring how traffic engineering applications can be used to encourage environmental sustainability in Rhode Island. The rationale for the project is trying to gain a more quantifiable view of sustainability using available data. Vehicles give off pollution, which damages the ozone layer as well as reduce air quality. In addition, crude oil is being excessively used for gasoline and the supply left is dwindling. In exploring how traffic engineering can be used to encourage environmental sustainability, the focus was on congestion; minimizing congestion reduces both pollution and the usage of gasoline, which encourages environmental sustainability.

A number of innovative ideas for the future are discussed in this paper. One such solution discussed is having automatic tolls located at certain checkpoints in chronically congested areas during the “rush hour” to encourage people to stagger their commute and discourage the use of critical roadways for non-work/non-essential purposes during this time. Another such solution discussed is the implementation of roundabouts. Research has shown that roundabouts reduce accidents and decrease congestion as compared to signalized and non-signalized intersections.

Hopefully the findings of this paper will be of use to Rhode Island in the future as they work toward providing a more sustainable transportation system.