In the context of urban transportation planning, a hierarchy of planning including strategic and operational levels are ideal for major projects. This paper will present Yellowhead Trail (YHT) corridor planning study, a key vehicle and goods movement corridor in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Strategic level planning was conducted to envision the “big picture” outlook and to support the City of Edmonton’s business plan and capital planning efforts. Several key criteria such as business impacts, right of way impacts, community impacts, and land use integration were considered to develop corridor level concepts. An evaluation matrix was used to rate the four freeway corridor concept options from sketch level planning.

The freeway corridor concept option resulting from the strategic planning level was further analyzed to evaluate several corridor accessibility scenarios using the City of Edmonton’s Regional Travel Demand model (RTM). Along with various evaluation measures, several other aspects such as anticipated traffic demand, traffic diversion to other routes, and GHG emission results were also compared for each scenario. A recommended corridor alignment option was developed which identifies new interchange locations, configuration and modification to the existing interchanges.

In order to develop a staging strategy for the recommended corridor alignment from the tactical planning level, both RTM and VISSIM microscopic simulation models were used for each of the staging options to analyze the operational aspects. Micro simulation models identified several network deficiencies which could not be captured by RTM. The detailed analysis of these simulation models also helped to visualize the anticipated queue and spillback effect along the corridor during the staging.

This study demonstrated the benefits of considering a hierarchy of planning efforts using macro and micro level modeling tools to recommend a sound corridor planning strategy. It also ensures a smooth transition to the subsequent stages of preliminary engineering and detail design for implementation. Such studies provide valuable insights from concept to operation to the decision makers for project prioritization and capital planning.