The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 541–553 | Cite as

The emergence of hierarchy in transportation networks

Abstract

A transportation network is a complex system that exhibits the properties of self-organization and emergence. Previous research in dynamics related to transportation networks focuses on traffic assignment or traffic management. This research concentrates on the dynamics of the orientation of major roads in a network and abstractly models these dynamics to understand the basic properties of transportation networks. A model is developed to capture the dynamics that leads to a hierarchical arrangement of roads for a given network structure and land use distribution. Localized investment rules, wherein revenue produced by traffic on a link is invested for that link's own development, are employed. Under reasonable parameters, these investment rules, coupled with traveler behavior, and underlying network topology result in the emergence of a hierarchical pattern. Hypothetical networks subject to certain conditions are tested with this model to explore their network properties. Though hierarchies seem to be designed by planners and engineers, the results show that they are intrinsic properties of networks. Also, the results show that roads, specific routes with continuous attributes, are emergent properties of transportation networks.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thurston Regional Planning CouncilOlympiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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