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Modelling and Simulation in Engineering
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 729570, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2009/729570
Research Article

A Simulation Tool for Hurricane Evacuation Planning

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0276, USA
2Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
3Department of Industrial Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA

Received 17 February 2009; Revised 20 August 2009; Accepted 15 December 2009

Academic Editor: Evtim Peytchev

Copyright © 2009 Daniel J. Fonseca et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Atlantic hurricanes and severe tropical storms are a serious threat for the communities in the Gulf of Mexico region. Such storms are violent and destructive. In response to these dangers, coastal evacuation may be ordered. This paper describes the development of a simulation model to analyze the movement of vehicles through I-65, a major US Interstate highway that runs north off the coastal City of Mobile, Alabama, towards the State of Tennessee, during a massive evacuation originated by a disastrous event such a hurricane. The constructed simulation platform consists of a primary and two secondary models. The primary model is based on the entry of vehicles from the 20 on-ramps to I-65. The two secondary models assist the primary model with related traffic events such as car breakdowns and accidents, traffic control measures, interarrival signaling, and unforeseen emergency incidents, among others. Statistical testing was performed on the data generated by the simulation model to indentify variation in relevant traffic variables affecting the timely flow of vehicles travelling north. The performed statistical analysis focused on the closing of alternative on-ramps throughout the Interstate.