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GMU professor wins ITF Award

A civil engineering professor from George Mason University (GMU) has been honored for his work in reducing city traffic congestion. Dr Shanjiang Zhu, a Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership (P3) Policy research fellow, has been awarded the 2014 Young Researcher of the Year Award by the International Transport Forum (ITF). Zhu was selected by an international jury of experts for his development of a multidimensional traffic congestion simulation model, which has created an invaluable and technically sound tool to evaluate policy options for congestion reduction in cities. The award is open to researchers who are under 35 years of age and are affiliated with a research institution in one of the 54 member countries of the ITF. Zhu developed a new multidimensional analytical framework for comparing travel demand management policies and then applied the model to the city of Beijing. His winning entry is titled, ‘Rationing and Pricing Strategies for Congestion Mitigation: Behavioral Theory, Econometric Model, and Application in Beijing.’

Zhu, who also serves as a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) technical appointee on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, said of his work, “In facing increasing congestion, governments must be very creative in their choices of travel demand management strategies. Some emerging approaches, such as ‘vehicle lotteries’ and ‘one day without a car’, have been tested in mega-cities. While sharing the results of these experiments is useful for other cities or in other parts of the same city, not all successes are transferable. The development of analytical models moves the practice from simply reapplication of empirical learning to methods of analysis that take into account the special features of the city or area in question. In my research, I developed an analytical approach that integrates a city’s traffic network, adding economic considerations and traveler behavior, which have a strong effect on the outcome. Our research team built on past experience and then tested the model on Beijing’s congestion problems. This research promises to assist those making policy decisions in the world’s most congested cities using technically sound approaches.”

“Dr Zhu’s work demonstrates how multidisciplinary effective transportation research has become,” said Deborah Goodings, chair of the Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering at GMU. “Technically rigorous transportation modeling is not enough. By integrating economics and traveler behavior into numerical simulations, the result is a decision-making support tool that can have real impact on transportation planning. Zhu has positioned himself as an emerging leader in practice-ready research that can be used to address the increasingly overwhelming problems of traffic congestion in large cities, including Washington, DC, and the megacities of the world.”

May 30, 2014

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