Old Dominion University
A to Z Index  |  Directories

Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology

Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions

About Us



Trans Res Institute

Trans Applications Program

Trans Mod & Sim Prog

News and Events

VIRGINIA BEACH-- The region's top transportation officials gathered for the grand opening of Old Dominion University's Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions at Town Center Thursday.

Many hope the research team from CITS will find solutions to the transportation challenges facing Hampton Roads.

"The simpler solutions sometimes have the bigger impact on traffic flow," said Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton. "We're looking forward to working with ODU and the simulation center."

Researchers will use modeling and simulation to develop transportation research the region has never seen.

The opening comes on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, a storm which created big traffic problems in some parts of the area.

Center Director Asad Khattak told 13News they've already started researching ways to mitigate traffic confusion during severe weather events.

Khattak says putting together better evacuation routes will be a big part of their research.

"We can provide them with detailed information on what routes are open, where to go and how to go there," Khattak said. "It will be more customized information that we can provide to people."

Virginia Beach/ODU traffic planning center opens

Posted to: NewsTraffic - TransportationVirginia Beach


Remember the rude driver who cut you off last week?

The city's transportation future will soon be shaped by computer simulations so detailed they'll even account for that guy.

Aggressive motorists are among the many variables that researchers will be able to tinker with at the Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions, a joint venture between Old Dominion University and Virginia Beach that celebrated its grand opening Thursday in Town Center.

City planners envision that the center can help answer all sorts of questions. Where is the best place to add lanes or build a new road? What would traffic from a pro sports arena look like? What contingencies do they need to prepare for if an accident or natural disaster shuts down a key road?

The simulations will be far more detailed than the regional model now available to planners in Hampton Roads, said Mark Schnaufer, the city's transportation planning coordinator.

Bob Gey, the city's traffic engineer, described the difference this way: Think of a model that basically tells you how many cars can go down a street. Now think of a simulation that breaks down the traffic counts into individual vehicles and then incorporates those "predictable unpredictables" - breakdowns and accidents - that Gey said cause half of all delays.

The center, with a staff of six from ODU, occupies about 2,000 square feet of space rented by the city's Development Authority in a building at Town Center. Rent is about $48,000 a year, but ODU gets the space for free in exchange for research tailored to city requests. The center will not be limited to Virginia Beach-specific work, however.

Mayor Will Sessoms said Thursday that the center will partake in "unbiased, nonpartisan and scientific endeavors."

City officials anticipate using the center to help them develop their long-range transportation plan. One of the first tasks will be to create a base model of Virginia Beach's freeways and other major roads, including intersections with traffic lights, said Mecit Cetin, an associate professor at the center.

Such a detailed working model of a city's transportation network has been done only in a few places in the country, Cetin said.


June 19, 2012

In an agreement with the Virginia Beach Development Authority, Old Dominion University will launch the Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions (CITS) in Virginia Beach Town Center, positioning the city and university at the forefront of transportation research for the region and beyond.

The center, slated to open later this summer, will focus on developing and applying innovative techniques, including the expansive use of modeling and simulation, to address a broad variety of transportation challenges and issues facing the region, state and nation.

"Old Dominion University and the City of Virginia Beach have partnered for many years to create opportunities for the betterment of the city, university, region and its citizens," said ODU Chief Operating Officer David F. Harnage. "The Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions is a continuation of that strong partnership and we look forward to the promising work that will come from our joint efforts in CITS."

Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. added, "This is a very timely project for the city and ODU. For years now, I have said that transportation the No. 1 issue in Hampton Roads. As former chairman of the region's transportation planning group, I am proud that Virginia Beach will host this center, dedicated to finding creative solutions to moving people and goods through Hampton Roads."

Approved June 19 by the Development Authority, the agreement provides ODU office space in One Columbus Center, valued at approximately $50,000 per year, for three years. In return, CITS will complete detailed transportation simulation and modeling research of an equivalent value for Virginia Beach. The topic will be jointly selected by researchers and city leaders.

"Cities face many complex issues in transportation, and elected officials and city managers must make decisions that benefit their citizens and provide the basis for economic growth," said John Sokolowski, executive director of Old Dominion's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. "Modeling and simulation enables decision-makers to see the impact of planned improvements on congestion and ease of access to neighborhoods and businesses, resulting in better informed decisions and more successful projects. This partnership between Old Dominion and Virginia Beach brings together the transportation research resources and urban planning capabilities to solve these complex issues for the benefit of all."

Six researchers will be housed at CITS, with others joining them to collaborate on specific projects. Asad Khattak, Old Dominion's Batten Chair in Transportation, will serve as director.

Khattak also leads Old Dominion's work as part of a five-university team recently named a Tier One University Transportation Center (UTC) by the U.S. Department of Education. Work on the $3.5 million grant to integrate real-time data systems and advanced transportation applications to better manage congestion while minimizing environmental impacts, will be done at CITS. Researchers will also study alternative fuels and technologies, fuel conservation, urban studies, land use and public policy to support transportation decision making at the local, regional and national levels.

In addition, other possible areas of research include:

  • multimodal transportation planning, including signal light timing, public transportation planning and analysis, potential growth of light rail, and simulation of future traffic patterns;
  • intelligent transportation systems, including Advanced Traveler Information Systems, advanced sensors analysis, and inter-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle communications;
  • safety and security, including driver and passenger behaviors and evacuation transportation plans; and
  • transportation impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

Old Dominion University is Virginia's forward-focused metropolitan research university with rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, and engaging and relevant learning opportunities that teach skills for success. With a determined entrepreneurial approach that drives research and collaboration, the university contributes nearly $1 billion annually to the local economy.

Old Dominion has held classes in Virginia Beach since 1988, and currently offers 28 bachelor's and 17 master's and doctoral degree programs. Nearly 2,000 students take courses and 90 professors teach at ODU's Virginia Beach campus in Princess Anne Commons. The university recently announced the relocation of its nurse anesthesia program to Virginia Beach.

Va. Beach gives ODU office space for transit research

By Mike Hixenbaugh,The Virginian-Pilot

The city's Development Authority agreed this morning to give Old Dominion University free space at Town Center to open a new transportation research office, at a cost of about $48,000 a year to the city.

In return, the researchers and students at the newly created Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions will conduct in-kind transportation modeling studies for the city, possibly related to light rail expansion, parking at the Oceanfront or other potential city projects.

"We haven't agreed yet on the specific projects," said John Sokolowski, director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at ODU. "There are numerous possibilities, and we are open to whatever the city would like us to take on."

The research center is expected to open later this summer and will be located on the ground floor of the One Columbus Center office tower at Town Center. The Development Authority will pay the building's owner, Armada Hoffler, $47,951 a year for the 2,000 square-foot office space.

The center will focus on developing computer-generated models to address regional transportation challenges. The researchers will have tools and expertise to produce dynamic traffic simulations that the city likely couldn't create in-house, Sokolowski said.

Asad Khattak, the university's Batten Chair in Transportation, will lead the center. Six researchers will work there, with others joining them on specific projects.

The transportation research center will fill a vacancy created when UBS Financial Services reduced the size of its office, said Mark Wawner, the city's project development manager. The office tower, built as part of the Town Center public-private agreement, is at 90 percent occupancy, Wawner said.

Deputy City Manager Steve Herbert thanked ODU officials for coming forward with the proposal. The partnership, he said, could help the city produce models to test traffic-flow solutions through high-growth areas and help plot the future of multimodal transportation through the city.

The idea of diverting a proposed light rail line to Hilltop is a prime candidate for that sort of study, Herbert said. Barry Frankenfield, the Beach's strategic growth area manager, joked he would put the researchers to work tomorrow to develop parking solutions for the Oceanfront resort.

"When can you start?" Frankenfield said.

Pilot writer Cindy Clayton contributed to this report.

ODU Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and staff present 15 research papers at the 2012 TRB Annual Meeting

ODU Transportation Research Institute faculty participated in the 91st Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) held in January in Washington, D.C. The presenters included Professor Asad Khattak, Assistant Professor Mecit Cetin, Assistant Professor ManWo Ng, Dr. Michael Robinson, Dr. Jun Duanmo, and several graduate students. ODU faculty, staff and students presented 15 research papers/posters, reflecting collaborations between various ODU entities, e.g., Transportation Research Institute and Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center, and other universities. At the conference, the Fourth Annual Lunch for related faculty, researchers, students and transportation partners was held at the Lebanese Taverna, with participation from colleagues at various universities, Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The TRB Annual Meeting covered all transportation modes, with thousands of presentations on a diverse set of transportation topics. The TRB 91st Annual Meeting attracted nearly 11,000 transportation professionals from around the world to Washington, D.C., in January, 2012 at the Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, and Hilton Washington Hotels. ODU's Dr. Khattak co-chaired the Advanced Traveler Information Systems sub-committee meeting, and Dr. Mecit Cetin presided over the Artificial Intelligence Applications for Travel Time and Demand Forecasting session. ODU faculty, staff, and students presented the following papers and posters on transportation planning and operations.

Operations, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and Safety

  • Exploring the Transition of Traffic Flow Conditions in Aggregated Sensor Data (12-0134), Son, Sanghoon, Cetin, Mecit, Khattak, Asad J. - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Estimating Queue Dynamics at Signalized Intersections from Probe Vehicle Data: Methodology Based on Kinematic Wave Model (12-0135), Cetin, Mecit - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Comparing the Performance of Neural Networks and Bayesian Models in Solving the Vehicle Reidentification Problem (12-0133), Cetin, Mecit, Rashid, Tanweer - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Investigating Benefits of Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications in Emergency Response: Conceptual Methodology (12-0131), Jordan, Craig A., Foytik, Peter, Norfolk, Cetin, Mecit - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Distribution Analysis of Freight Transportation Using Gravity Model and Genetic Algorithm (12-2782), Duanmu, Jun, Foytik, Peter, Khattak, Asad J., Robinson, Robert Michael - Old Dominion University

  • Analysis of Large-Scale Incidents on Urban Freeways (12-3734), Zhang, Hongbing, Zhang, Yichi, Khattak, Asad J. - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • A Comparative Empirical Analysis of Eco-Friendly Routes During Peak and Off-Peak Hours (12-0570), Bandeira, Jorge Filipe Marto - University of Aveiro, Portugal, Carvalho, Dário Oliveira - University of Aveiro, Portugal, Rouphail, Nagui M. - North Carolina State University, Raleigh, Khattak, Asad J. - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Coelho, Margarida Cabrita - University of Aveiro, Portugal

Network Modeling

  • Determining Network-wide Link Flows Through Strategic Sensor Deployment Without Path Enumeration (12-1231), Ng, ManWo - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Optimizing Work Zone Traffic Flow on Two-Lane Highways (12-1222), Ng, ManWo - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Generalizing FHWA's Ramp Counting Procedure for Arbitrary Network Topologies: Some Examples of How to Count More with Less (12-1228), Ng, ManWo Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Emissions Modeling in Transportation Networks with Stochastic Dependencies: Copula Approach (12-1230), Ng, ManWo - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

Planning and Traveler behavior

  • Transforming the Telephone-Based National Household Travel Survey to the Internet (12-1488), Son, Sanghoon, Khattak, Asad J., Wang, Xin - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Chen, Juyin - Virginia Department of Transportation

  • What Can We Learn from Analyzing University Student Travel Demand? (12-2783), Wang, Xin, Norfolk, Khattak, Asad J, Son, Sanghoon - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Evacuee Route Choice Decisions in Dynamic Hurricane Evacuation Context (12-3167), Robinson, Robert Michael, Khattak, Asad J. - Old Dominion University, Norfolk

  • Calibration of Volume-Delay Functions for Traffic Assignment in Travel Demand Models (12-0132), Cetin, Mecit - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Foytik, Peter - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Son, Sanghoon - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Khattak, Asad J. - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Robinson, Robert Michael - Old Dominion University, Lee, Jaesup - Virginia Department of Transportation

In addition, Mr. Robert Case from the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and graduate student at ODU presented a dissertation paper titled The Role of Accessibility in Reducing Auto Travel Disbenefits (P12-6884).

Old Dominion University receives the 2012 competitive University Transportation Centers Program grant as part of a consortium

Febuary 1, 2012

The Old Dominion University faculty and staff are delighted to share the good news that ODU is on the 2012 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) Tier 1 Grant Recipients list, as part of a consortium lead by the University of Idaho. Other consortium members include the Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Syracuse University, and Texas Southern University. The research focus of the UTC is "Transportation for Livability by Integrating Vehicles and the Environment" (TransLIVE for short). The main mission of the center is to help our nation achieve the goals of a cleaner environment and greater energy independence through developing new technologies and decision support tools. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration announced that a total of 63 University Transportation Center applications were received for a share of the $77 million in grants. A total of 22 grants, each worth $3.5 million (requiring a 1:1 match), were awarded following a review of the submitted proposals. The competition was particularly intense for the Tier 1 grants such as those received by TransLIVE with 46 university teams competing for only 10 opportunities. Notably, ODU was a new applicant to the UTC Program. The UTC Program awards grants to universities across the United States to advance transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals.

Professor Asad Khattak, Director of ODU Transportation Research Institute, and Principal Investigator of the ODU UTC grant, and the two co-PIs Dr. Mike Robinson of ODU Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center and Assistant Professor Mecit Cetin of Civil & Environmental Engineering expressed their deep appreciation for their partners in Virginia Department of Transportation and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, who provided letters of support. They also want to thank the congressional delegation for their support.

The initial key research goals of this new Tier-1 UTC are to (1) integrate real-time data systems and advanced transportation applications to better manage congestion while minimizing environmental impacts, and (2) to develop modeling, simulation, and visualization tools that assess energy, environmental, and emission impacts of transportation systems to support transportation decision making at the local, regional, and national levels.