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TRB Paper No. 03-4158

A Stepwise Highway Alignment Optimization Using Genetic Algorithms

by

Eungcheol Kim, Ph.D. Research Fellow Department of Highway Research The Korea Transport Institute (KOTI), South Korea TEL: +82-31-910-3057, FAX: +82-31-910-3235 E-MAIL: eckim@koti.re.kr

Manoj K. Jha, Ph.D., P.E. (Corresponding Author) Assistant Professor Department of Civil Engineering Morgan State University 5200 Perring Parkway Baltimore, MD 21251 TEL: 1-443-885-1446, FAX: 1-443-885-8218 E-MAIL: mkjha@eng.morgan.edu

and

Bongsoo Son, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Urban Planning and Engineering Yonsei University, South Korea TEL: +82-2-2123-5891, FAX: +82-2-393-6298 E-MAIL: sbs@yonsei.ac.kr

November 2002

Submitted for presentation at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and for publication in the Transportation Research Record

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ABSTRACT

In this paper we propose a stepwise highway alignment optimization approach using

genetic algorithms for improving computational efficiency and quality of solutions. Our previous

work in highway alignment optimization has demonstrated that computational burden is a

significant issue when working with a Geographic Information System (GIS) database requiring

numerous spatial analyses. Furthermore, saving computation time can enhance adoptability of a

model especially when a study area is relatively large or involves many sensitive properties or if

locating complex structures such as intersections, bridges and tunnels is necessary. It is well

acknowledged that in many optimization processes subdividing large problems into smaller

pieces can decrease the computation time and produce a better solution. In this research two

different population sizes are used to develop a stepwise alignment optimization when

employing genetic algorithms in suitably subdivided study areas. An example study shows that

the proposed stepwise optimization gives more efficient results than the existing methods and

also improves quality of solutions.

Key Words: Stepwise optimization, Genetic algorithms, Computational efficiency, Highway

alignment optimization, Geographic information systems, Segmentation

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INTRODUCTION

The highway alignment optimization involves finding the best highway alternative

between a pair of points (1-5). The problem can be stated as follows:

Given two end points in the study area and allowing the existing conditions of the study

area changeable, find the best alignment among alternatives to optimize a specified objective

function, while considering needed structures and satisfying design and operational

requirements.

For more reliable and realistic applications highway alignment optimization processes

should consider many factors, which increase the complexity of the problem. The factors may

include structures, topography, socio-economics, ecology, geology, soil types, land use patterns,

environment and even community concerns. They are considered with different emphasis and

levels of detail at different stages in the alignment selection processes. Traditionally, these

processes have consumed much time and effort of agencies, planners, engineers and residents.

Several models have been developed in response to this need. They can save considerable time

and costs compared to the traditional manual methods using computers and mathematical

formulations (6-8). Recently, a solution approach (1, 4-5) based on genetic algorithms (GAs) for

three-dimensional highway alignment optimization has been developed. The GA advantages to

the highway alignment optimization problem over traditional methods have been extensively

covered in (1-5); therefore, have been skipped here for brevity.

A model integrating geographic information systems (GIS) with such a GA has also been

developed (2). Furthermore, there has been an effort to incorporate structures such as

intersections, tunnels, bridges and interchanges into the optimization process for improving

practical usability of the models (3).

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Although the first objective of the many developed models is to obtain the best alignment

(global optimum or at least near global optimum), computational efficiency of the models is also

of great concern since it largely affects the degree of a model’s adoptability. The computational

burden especially increases (2) when the number of properties to be analyzed for right-of-way

cost calculation and environmental impact assessment increases.

It is well known that in many optimization processes, subdividing large problems into

suitable pieces can decrease the computation time and produce a better solution. This argument

also applies to this study, since optimizing highway alignments repeatedly involves fine-tuning

search steps during successive search processes.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Theoretically, highway alignment optimization problem involves an infinite number of

alternatives to be evaluated. In previous applications (1-5) the optimization problem was

formulated as a cost minimization problem in which cost functions are non-differentiable, noisy

and implicit. Thus, it is inevitable to use fast and efficient search algorithms to solve such a

problem.

According to Table 1, seven search methods (1-28) are used for alignment optimization

models. Among those, all have some critical defects when applied to the highway alignment

optimization problem except genetic algorithms. Table 2 summarizes these defects.

GENETIC ALGORITHMS AS AN OPTIMAL SEARCH

Genetic Algorithms (GAs) have been proven to be very effective to highway alignment

optimization problems (1-5) since they can effectively search in a continuous search space

without getting trapped in local optima. Goldberg (2 9) states four important distinctions of GAs

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over other search methods:

(1) GAs work with a coding of the parameter set, not the parameters themselves.

(2) GAs search from a population rather than a single point.

(3) GAs use payoff (objective function) information, not derivatives or other auxiliary

knowledge.

(4) GAs use probabilistic transition rules, not deterministic rules.

In addition it is found that GA is highly efficient means of searching a large solution

space. Some computational details of GA application to optimize three-dimensional highway

alignments (1) relevant to this study is described next.

Data Format for Describing the Region of Interest

A matrix format as shown in Figure 1, is employed to minimize the needed memory and

carry important information for the entire region. The coordinates of the origin (bottom left

corner) are labeled as

O

(

x

O

,

y

O

)

and the dimensions of each cell are D x and D y . We further

denote

x

max

and

y

max

as the maximal X and Y coordinates of the study region.

Decision Variables (Points of Intersections)

In highway engineering processes, points of intersections (

P , see Figure 2) are used to

i

initially locate alignments. Those points are then connected linearly to make tangent sections.

Finally, appropriate curves are fitted to create a smooth and continuous alignment. Genetic

algorithms adopted here exactly follow the above real engineering processes. Therefore, points

of intersections (

P ) are the decision variables for alignment optimization and a set of points of

i

intersections describes one specific highway alternative. In Figure 2,

  • C i and T mean points of

i

curvature and points of tangency, respectively. For notational convenience, we further denote

T 0
T
0

= P

0

= S

and C

n

+1

=

P n
P
n

+1

=

E

as the start and end points of the alignment.

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Genetic Encoding of Alignment Alternatives

Each point of intersection is determined by three decision variables, namely the X , Y ,

and Z coordinates (1, 4-5). For an alignment represented by n points of intersections, the

encoded chromosome is composed of 3n genes. Thus, the chromosome is defined as:

Λ =

[

λ

1

,

λ

2

,

λ

3

,

......

,

λ

3

n

2

,

λ

3

n

1

,

λ

3

n

]

=

[ x
[
x
P 1
P
1

, y

P 1
P
1

, z

P 1
P
1

,

......x

P n
P
n

, y

P n
P
n

, z

P n
P
n

]

where: Λ = chromosome

(1)

λ = the

i

i

th

gene, for all i = 1,

.......

,3n

(

x

P

i

, y

P i
P
i

, z

P

i

)

= the coordinates of the i

th

point of intersection, for all i = 1,

.......

,

n

Genetic Operators

The genetic operators employed for this study are problem-specific. Each operator is

designed to work on the decoded points of intersections rather than individual genes.

  • 1. Uniform Mutation Let

Λ =

[

λ , λ , λ ,

1

2

3

......

,

λ

3 n

2

, λ , λ

3 n

1

3 n

]

be the chromosome to be mutated at the encoded

genes of the

k

th

intersection point, where k

=

r d
r
d

[

1,

n

]

, Then

λ

3 k 2

and λ

3 k 1

will be replaced by:

λ

3

k

2

=

r

c

[

x

O

,

x

max

]

λ

3

k

1

=

r

c

[

y

O

,

y

max

]

(2a)

(2b)

  • 2. Straight Mutation Let

Λ =

[

λ , λ , λ ,

1

2

3

......

,

λ

3 n

2

, λ , λ

3 n

1

3 n

]

be the chromosome for mutation. We randomly

generate two independent discrete random numbers i and j , where i = r [0, n + 1] ,

d

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j = r

d

[0, n + 1]

, i

j , and i < j . Then the intermediate genes between the

(3i )

th

and

(3 j 2)

th

will be replaced by:

 

λ

3

 

=

λ

3

i

 

(

l

i

)

λ

3

j

2

λ

3

i

2

 

for all l = i + 1,

 

j 1

 

1

+

   

(3a)

l

2

i

,

......

,

λ

 

l

i

j

λ

3

j

1

λ

3

i

1

     

λ

3

 

=

+

)

 

 

for all l = i + 1,

......

 

j 1

 

(3b)

l

1

3

i

1

(

i

,

,

j

λ

3

j

λ

3

i

   

λ

3

 

=

λ

3

i

+

(

l

i

)

,

for all

l = i

+ 1,

 

,

j 1

 

(3c)

l

i

......

3.

j

Non-Uniform Mutation

 

Let

Λ =

[

λ , λ , λ ,

1

2

3

,

λ

3 n

2

, λ , λ

3 n

1

3 n

]

be the chromosome to be mutated at the encoded

genes of the

k

th

intersection point, where k

=

r

d

[

1,

n

]

. We first generate two random binary digit

 

[0,1]

. Then the alleles of

λ

3

k

2

and λ

3

k

1

in the resulting offspring

 

Λ ′ =

(1)

[

λ , λ , λ ,

1

2

3

...

,

λ

3 k

2

, λ

3 k

1

, λ

3 k

,

If the first random digit

r

d

...

,

λ

3 n

2

[0,1] =

0

, λ , λ

3 n

1

3 n

, then

]

are determined by the following rules:

 

λ

3

2

=

λ

3 k

2

f

(

t

,

λ

3 k

2

x

)

 

(4a)

 

 

k

If the first random

digit

r

d

O

[0,1] = 1

, then

 

λ

=

λ

+

t

λ

3

k

2

3

k

2

f

(

,

x

max

3

k

2

)

(

λ

λ

)

(4b)

where: f is defined

′ =

λ

l

λ

i

+

(

l

i

)

j

i

j

i

,

for all l = i + 1,

 

,

j 1

(2)

 

If the second random digit

r

d

[0,1] = 0

, then

 
 

λ

3

k

1

=

λ

3 k

1

f

(

t

,

λ

3 k

1

y

O

)

 

(5a)

 

 

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If the second random digit

r d
r
d

[0,1] = 1 , then

λ

3

k

1

=

λ

3

k

1

+

f

(

t

,

y

max

λ

3

k

1

)

  • 4. Whole Non-Uniform Mutation

(5b)

This operator applies the non-uniform operator to each point of intersection of a given

chromosome in a randomly generated sequence to change the entire configuration of the

corresponding horizontal alignment.

  • 5. Simple Crossover

 

Let two parents

Λ

i

=

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

,

λ

i

3

,

,

λ

i

2 )

,

λ

i

( 3

1)

,

λ

i

 

]

and

 

Λ

=

[

λ

1

,

λ

2

,

λ

3

,

,

λ

2 )

,

λ

1)

,

λ

( 3

 

)

( 3

n

n

( 3

n

)

]

be crossed after a randomly generated position

j

j

j

3k , where k

Λ ′ =

i

j

=

r [

d

1,

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

n

,

j

( 3

n

j

( 3

n

j

n

]

. Then the resulting offspring are

λ

i

3

,

...

,

λ

i

k

,

λ

k

+

...

,

λ

,

λ

 

,

λ

 

)

]

 

(6a)

   

 
 

Λ ′

=

[

λ

1

,

λ

2

,

λ

3

,

...

,

( 3

λ

)

( 3

k

)

j

( 3

,

λ

i

1)

( 3

k

+

1)

...

,

j

( 3

n

λ

i

( 3

2 )

j

( 3

n

2 )

,

λ

i

( 3

1)

1)

,

j

( 3

n

λ

i

( 3

)

]

 

(6b)

6.

j

j

j

j

j

Two-point Crossover

Let

Λ

i

=

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

,

λ

i

3

,

,

λ

i

 

,

λ

i

,

n

n

λ

i

( 3

)

]

and

 

n

 

 

Λ

=

[

λ

1

,

λ

2

,

λ

3

,

,

λ

2 )

,

λ

( 3

n

1)

2 )

,

λ

( 3

( 3

)

n

1)

n

]

be the two parents to be crossed between two

j

j

j

j

j

( 3

n

j

( 3

n

randomly generated positions 3k and

 

j

n

3l , where k

=

r [

d

1,

n ]

,

l

=

r d [

1,

n ]

, k l , and k < l . Then

the resulting offspring are

Λ ′ =

i

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

,

λ

i

3

,

...

Λ ′

j

=

[

λ

j

1

,

λ

j

2

,

λ

j

3

,

,

λ

i

( 3

...

,

λ

j

k

)

( 3

,

λ

j

( 3

k

k

)

,

λ

i

+

1)

...

,

λ

j

l

( 3 )

( 3

k

+

1)

...

,

λ

( 3 )

i

,

λ

i

( 3

l

+

1)

,

l

,

λ

j

( 3

l

+

1)

...

,

λ

i

( 3

n

,

...

,

λ

j

( 3

)

]

n

)

]

(7a)

(7b)

7.

Arithmetic Crossover

Given two parents

Λ

i

=

 

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

 

,

λ

i

3

,

,

λ

i

,

λ

i

 

,

λ

i

 

]

 

and

   

( 3

n

2 )

( 3

n

1)

( 3

n

)

 

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Λ

=

[

λ

1

,

λ

2

,

λ

3

,

,

λ

( 3

2 )

,

λ

j

j

j

as follows:

 

j

j

n

 

j

 

Λ

′ = ωΛ

i

i

+ (1 ω ) Λ

j

Λ ′

j

= ωΛ

j

+ (1 ω ) Λ

i

where

ω = r

c

[0,1]

 

8.

Heuristic Crossover

 

Λ

i

=

[

λ

i

1

,

λ

i

2

,

λ

i

3

,

,

λ

i

( 3

2 )

,

λ

i

( 3

Λ

j

=

[

λ

j

1

,

λ

j

2

,

λ

j

3

,

,

n

λ

j

( 3

n

2 )

,

n

λ

j

( 3

n

1)

,

λ

j

( 3

n

)

]

, the arithmetic crossover reproduces two offspring

(8a)

(8b)

Let the two parents to be crossed by this operator be denoted by

1)

,

λ

i

( 3

n

)

]

and

( 3

n

1)

,

λ

j

( 3

n

)

]

, where we assume

C

T

(

Λ

i

)

C

T

(

Λ

j

)

(i.e.,

Λ

i

is

at least as good as

Λ ). Then the operator generates a single offspring Λ ′ according to the

j

following rule:

(

Λ ′ = ω Λ

i

− Λ

j

)

+ Λ

i

where

ω = r

c

[0,1]

(9)

Further details on genetic encoding and operators can be found in Jong et al. (4), and Jong and

Schonfeld (5).

METHODOLOGY

When obtaining an alignment alternative through an optimization process, the expected

outputs are three-dimensional coordinates of the alignment centerline. To describe highway

alignments (or centerlines of highways), a parametric representation is useful (30-32). In the

proposed method a smooth and continuous alignment is explored in a given solution space.

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Boldface capital letters will be used to denote vectors in space. Let

P (u ) = [ x (u ), y (u ), z (u )]

T

be

a position vector along the alignment L , where

u ∫ P ′ ( ) t dt 0 u = and 1 ∫ P ′
u
P ′ ( )
t
dt
0
u =
and
1
P ′ ( )
t
dt
0
P ′(u ) =
P ′(u )
=

( x (u ))

2

+ ( y (u ))

2

+ ( z (u ))

2

. Basically,

P is parameterized by u , which represents

the fraction of arc length traversed to that point. If L is an alignment connecting

S = [ x

S

, y

S

, z

S

]

T

and E = [ x

E

, y

E

, z

E

]

T

, then the position vector P (u ) must satisfy P ( 0) = S ,

and P (1) = E . P (u ) must

also be continuous and continuously differentiable in the interval

u [0,1] .

Alignment Optimization Model Formulation

Model formulation consists of two parts: (1) objective function and (2) constraints. The

objective function is the total cost function having five main components (user cost (

C

U

), right-

of-way cost (

C

R

), pavement cost ( C

P

), earthwork cost ( C

E

) and structure cost ( C

S

)) as shown

in Equation (10).

Minimize

x

P

1

,

y

P

1

,

z

P

1

,

.....

,

x

P n

,

y

P n

,

z

P n

C

T

=

C

U

+

C

R

+

C

P

+

C

E

+

C

S

(10)

subject to

x

O

x

P

i

x

max

,

i

=

1,

.....

,

n

y

O

y

P

i

y

max

,

i

=

1,

.....

,

n

(10a)

(10b)

where

(

x

O

,

y

O

)

= the X , Y coordinates of the bottom-left corner of the study region (Fig. 1)

(

x

P

i

,

y

P

i

)

= the X , Y coordinates of points of intersections,

P i
P
i

(

x

max

,

y

max

)

= the X , Y coordinates of the top-right corner of the study region (Fig. 2)

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The user cost consists of travel–time cost, vehicle operating cost, and accident cost (4-5, 33).

The right-of-way cost consists of the land area taken by the alignment and damage to the

properties (34).

There are also many design and operational constraints to be met in alignment

optimization. Among those, important factors can be addressed as follows:

(1) Alignment Necessary Conditions

Any point of the horizontal alignment (

  • L xy

) of an alignment (L) should be a part of the

set of tangent sections (

C ) or circular curves ( C

t

c

) or spiral curves (

C

s

).

(2) Horizontal Curvature Constraint (Minimum Radius Constraint)

The degree of horizontal curvature should be less than the maximum allowable value,

H

max

, to provide safe turning radius. A common way to express this constraint is through the

minimum radius constraint for horizontal alignments.

R

min

=

V

d

2

15(

e

+

f

s

)

where

  • V d

=design speed (mph)

e = superelevation

f = coefficient of side friction

s

(3) Gradient Constraint

(11)

To avoid abrupt change over the vertical alignment of highways, the maximum allowable

gradient constraint should be specified.

dz u ( ) dh u ( )
dz u
(
)
dh u
(
)

G

max

, u [0,1]

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where

h u

(

)

=

u

∫

0

(

x

( ))

t

2

+

(

y

( ))

t

2

dt

(4) Vertical Curvature Constraint

As in the case of horizontal curvature constraint, parabolic curves’ curvature in vertical

alignments should be less than the maximum allowable value,

  • V max

. This constraint can be

expressed as the minimum length of the vertical curve,

L

m

(35-37).

Crest Curve

 

A

S

2

d

 

=

 

if

  • L m (

100

2 h + 2 h d o
2
h
+
2
h
d
o

) 2

,

(
L

100

) 2 2 h + 2 h d o
)
2
2
h
+
2
h
d
o
  • m if

=

2

S

d

,

A

L

m

L

m

> S

d

< S

d

where

  • L m = minimum length of vertical curve (ft)

A = algebraic difference in grades (percent),

g

i

g

i

1

S

d

= sight distance (ft),

S

d

( )

i

=

3.67

V d
V
d

+

2

V

d

Kim et al. 10 where h u ( ) = u ∫ 0 ( x ′

30(

f

r

+

g

i

)

h

d

= height of driver's eye above roadway surface (ft)

h

o

= height of object above roadway surface (ft)

Sag Curve

L

m

=

A

S

2

d

400

+

3.5 S

d

,

if

L

m

> S

d

(or

A ∆
A

>

400 + 3.5 S

d

S

d

 

(13)

(14)

)

(15)

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L

m

=

2

S

d

400

+

3.5 S

d

A

,

if

L

m

< S

d

(or A

<

400

+ 3 .5 S

d

S

d

)

(16)

The vertical alignment constraints are considered in the model in the form of penalties (1-3).

Additional constraints on structures (i.e., bridges and tunnels) need to be considered. For

example, to select between fills and bridge construction, we need to know elevation

differences between ground elevations and road elevations. This elevation difference also

applies for constructing tunnels rather than cuts. Some constraints for intersection, overpass,

underpass, and interchange construction should also be considered. Examples of such

constraints are: crossing angle constraint, vertical and lateral clearance constraints and land

use, budget and regulations (6). A more detailed explanation of how vertical alignment

constraints and other constraints are incorporated in the model is available in Jong (1) and

Kim (3).

An Alignment Optimization Example Using Genetic Algorithms

This section illustrates how the alignment optimization using genetic algorithms works, and what

kind of results it produces. Figure 3 shows an artificial study area with fairly complex

topography that includes a two-lane highway from the center of North to South-East, three hills

and a creek crossing from North-East edge to South. Darker cells represent higher elevations.

The grid size is 200×200 ft. Our plan is to build a two-lane highway connecting the start and end

points (Fig. 3) while allowing the existing road to be re-optimized. The following values are

used to compute the cost functions that make up the objective function: design speed (mph) 50;

coefficient of side friction (decimal) 0.16; superelevation (decimal) 0.06; maximum allowable

grade (%) 5; coefficient of forward rolling friction (decimal) 0.28; filling slope (decimal-tangent

value) 0.4 (2.5:1); cutting slope (decimal-tangent value) 0.5; earth shrinkage factor 0.9; unit

pavement cost ($/ft) 0.1; unit cost for diesel fuel ($/gallon) 0.85; unit cost for gasoline ($/gallon)

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1.25; average accident cost ($/per accident) 20000; unit cutting cost ($/cub yard) 35; unit filling

cost ($/cub yard) 20; unit transportation cost for moving earth from a borrow pit ($/cub yard) 2;

unit transportation cost for moving earth to a landfill ($/cub yd) 3; analysis period (years) 30;

interest rate (decimal) 0.06; annual average daily traffic 2000; traffic growth rate (decimal)

  • 0.005. In the interest of the page limitations set by TRB it is not possible to give all the details

on how these values are used in the model. Readers should refer to (1-5, 33).

Although the model is designed to automatically select the best crossing type of the new

alignment with the existing road, in this example it is assumed that users specify an intersection

as the crossing type with the existing road. A desktop computer with 1 GHz CPU speed and 261

MB RAM is used to run the program.

Figures 4 shows the optimized solution and other useful information. The figure shows

three main window areas: (1) horizontal alignment, (2) vertical alignment and (3) generation

number and best solution value. The best solution contains two bridges, two tunnels and an

intersection crossing the existing road with approximately 70 degrees.

Table 3 provides general information for the test run. Computation time took 4 minutes

and 50 seconds for 500 generations. Since the existing road initiated an additional module for

intersection evaluation, 4 minutes and 50 seconds are found to be relatively longer when

considering other types of structures. For instance, 3 minutes and 24 seconds took for a grade

separation and 3 minutes and 25 seconds consumed for an interchange. Please note that this is a

relatively simpler example in which saving a few minutes of computing time may not be very

significant; however, for larger problems with heterogeneous land use, especially when the

model is connected to a GIS (2) saving in computing time assumes particular significance.

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Total costs are found to be 21.03 million for approximately 1.5 miles long alignment. It

is also found that user costs account for 33% of the total costs. Structures’ costs including an

intersection, two bridges and two tunnels are 28% while construction costs only account for 39%.

STEPWISE ALIGNMENT OPTIMIZATION

Now, our concern is to examine if the stepwise approach yields any improvement in

computational efficiency and the quality of solution. In many optimization processes,

subdividing large problems into suitable pieces can decrease the computation time and produce a

better solution. This argument also applies to this study, since modeling intersections and other

structures in alignment optimization repeatedly involves fine-tuning search steps for structures.

Another issue for computational efficiency and search performance is the population size.

Goldberg (29) has shown that the efficiency of a GA in reaching a global optimum instead of

local ones largely depends on the population size.

In our application, the population size for each generation is set proportionally to the

number of decision variables (points of intersections,

P ’s). For example, if three points of

i

intersections are used for generating highway alignments, then the population size is set at 30 (=

3 × 10) while a population of 150 is used for 15 points of intersections.

The artificial study area previously used is chosen for a stepwise alignment optimization

and three scenarios shown in Table 4 are designed to check the search performance and

computational efficiency. Scenarios 1 and 2 are devised for a one-step optimization while

scenario 3 is for a two-step optimization. The results of scenarios 1 and 2 can be used for

assessing the effects of the population size on computational time and the quality of solutions

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while the result of scenario 3 can be compared to the results of both scenario 1 and 2 for

checking how much improvement is found with a two-step optimization.

The crossing type with the existing road (Fig. 3) is again assumed to be intersection, to

preserve comparison basis.

The unit excavation cost is assumed to be $100 and the limiting

value beyond which tunnels are considered rather than cuts is assumed to be 20 ft. Since the

optimization processes using GA is stochastic, each program run shows different results.

Therefore, several runs (we call it replications) need to be made to check (1, 4) the variance of

results. Therefore, three replications are run for scenarios 1 and 2. Table 5 shows comparison

between two scenarios and Figures 5 and 6 show the best solutions among three replications

under scenarios 1 and 2.

In scenario 1, two bridges, one tunnel and an intersection are found while scenario 2

shows one bridge, an intersection and no tunnels in the best solutions. Total costs of the best

solutions for each scenario significantly decreased from $22.14 million to $17.29 million ($4.85

million, 21.9% improvement) while computation time for scenario 2 is 4.72 times longer for

scenario 1. These results indicate various tradeoffs between cost and computational time. Please

note that GA does not guarantee a global optimal solution rather it gives a near optimal solution.

Also, for a problem such as ours it is possible to obtain significantly different solution values for

slightly different alignments requiring bridge/tunnel constructions versus cut/fill. Therefore,

caution should be exercised in interpreting the applications of the stepwise approach.

To check computation time and the quality of solutions of the two-step optimization, the

three points of intersections of scenario 1 are obtained after the one-step optimization and used to

subdivide the whole alignment into four segments. Figure 7 shows the resulting segmentation.

Since direct use of the points of intersection for the start or end points of each segment may not

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insure the smoothness when connecting the solutions from each segment, a 150 ft gap is inserted

between segments and it’s costs are averagely added to adjoining segments. It is notable that

only segment 3 requires evaluation of intersections.

Table 6 shows the results of two-step optimization under scenario 3. Total computation

time for scenario 3 is 6 minutes and 34 seconds; an improvement of more than two hours over

scenario 2 is noted. Also the computing time for scenario 3 is about 20% of that for scenario 1.

Also, it is worthwhile to note that the computation times for segments 1, 2 and 4, which do not

require intersection evaluation, are less than 20 seconds. More importantly, the overall costs of

each segment are found to be $16.74 million (76% of one-step optimization solution of scenario

1). Thus, two-step optimization not only improves the computing efficiency but also finds a

better solution. It is important to note here that one stage optimization is performed only to

compare the computing time and solutions to the stepwise approach. Also, as noted earlier for

more complex examples these improvements will be fairly significant.

Figures 8, 9, 10 and 11 show the optimized solutions for each segment with two-step

optimization. Significant changes compared to one-step solution (Fig. 5) has been noted in the

solution of segment 4. For instance, the tunnel found in one-step solution has disappeared.

Instead, only cuts and fills are observed in the optimized alignment which is shifted to the right,

costing less than tunnel construction.

CONCLUSIONS

Highway alignment optimization is a complex problem. It has an infinite number of

alternatives to be evaluated in a continuous search space. Moreover, cost functions are very

difficult to formulate, are non-differentiable, noisy and implicit. Due to the nature of the

problem faster and efficient search algorithms are needed rather than conventional methods.

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This study presented a stepwise highway alignment optimization procedure using genetic

algorithms, one of the artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. The stepwise optimization is based

on different population sizes and segmentation of study areas into suitable pieces. The proposed

stepwise approach is implemented in an artificial test example, which indicates that substantial

improvement in computing efficiency can be achieved with the stepwise approach. The

approach also improves the solution (i.e., an economical alignment is obtained) compared to the

traditional one stage approach. More test cases with larger problem size and additional GA

scenarios are needed to be run to investigate the full potential of the stepwise approach.

To subdivide a study area, it is recommended that a one-step optimization be run with a

relatively small number of decision variables (

P ’s). Then the relevant

i

P ’s location for

i

subdivision should be selected based on: (1) the possibility for construction of structures and (2)

the precision requirements. The lengths of segments may also differ depending on the precision

requirements and need for savings in computing time.

The method was not implemented on a real map using a GIS. Further research is

necessary to examine how much improvement in computational efficiency and the quality of

solutions can be achieved when the stepwise optimization is adopted for real application.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors wish to thank the four anonymous reviewers whose valuable comments

enhanced the quality of the paper. This research has been partially performed by the Advanced

Highway Research Center funded by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation affiliated to

the Korea Ministry of Science and Technology.

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REFERENCES

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  • 2. Jha, M. K. A Geographic Information Systems-Based Model for Highway Design Optimization. University of Maryland, College Park. Ph. D. dissertation, 2000.

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  • 10. Howard, B.E., Z. Brammick, and J.F.B. Shaw. Optimum Curvature Principle in Highway Routing. Journal of the Highway Division, ASCE, Vol. 94, No. HW1, 1968, pp. 61-82.

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  • 20. Puy Huarte, J. OPYGAR: Optimization and Automatic Design of Highway Profiles. PTRC Seminar Proceedings on Cost Models and Optimization in Highways, Session L13, 1973, London, UK.

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  • 29. Goldberg, D. E. Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization, and Machine Learning. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Massachusetts, 1989.

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List of Tables and Figures

Table 1 Studies on Highway Alignment Optimization

Table 2 Defects of the Existing Highway Alignment Optimization Methods

Table 3 General Information for the Test Run

Table 4 Scenarios for a Stepwise Optimization

Table 5 Comparison Between Scenarios 1 and 2

Table 6 Results for Each Segment of Scenario 3

Figure 1 An Example of Study Area for Alignment Optimization

Figure 2 An Example of Points of Intersections, Tangency and Curvature

Figure 3 Topography of the Artificial Study Area

Figure 4 Optimized Solution for the Test Case

Figure 5 The Best Solution among Three Replications for Scenario 1

Figure 6 The Best Solution among Three Replications for Scenario 2

Figure 7 Segmentation of the Scenario Solution 1 for 1 Two-Step Optimization

Figure 8 Optimized Solution for Segment 1 under Scenario 3

Figure 9 Optimized Solution for Segment 2 under Scenario 3

Figure 10 Optimized Solution for Segment 3 under Scenario 3

Figure 11 Optimized Solution for Segment 4 under Scenario 3

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TABLE 1 Studies on Highway Alignment Optimization

Target for

Types of approach

References

optimizing

 

Calculus of

7, 10-12, 26

variations

Network

 

Horizontal

alignment

optimization

6, 13-17

Dynamic

9, 18

 

programming

Genetic algorithms

1

 

Enumeration

19

Dynamic

8, 20-22

programming

Vertical

Linear programming

27-28

alignment

Numerical research

6, 8, 22-24

Genetic algorithms

1

 

Dynamic

9, 18

Horizontal and

programming

vertical

Numerical research

25

alignment

Two-Stage

15-16

simultaneously

Optimization

Genetic algorithms

1-3

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TABLE 2 Defects of the Existing Highway Alignment Optimization Methods

Methods

 

Defects

 

Requires differentiable objective functions

Calculus of variations

Not suitable for discontinuous factors

Tendency to get trapped in local optima

Network optimization

Outputs are not smooth

Not for continuous search space

 

Outputs are not smooth

Dynamic programming

Not suitable for continuous search space

Not applicable for implicit functions

 

Requires independencies among subproblems

Enumeration

Not suitable for continuous search space

Inefficient

 

Not suitable for non-linear cost functions

Linear programming

Only covering limited number of points for gradient

and curvature constraints

 

Tendency to get trapped in local optima

Numerical research

Complex modeling

Difficulty in handling discontinuous cost items

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Table 3 General Information for the Test Run

Generation no. at

Total

cost ($)

Computation

time

Crossing

No. of

tunnels

No. of

bridges

which best solution

Type

Costs

found

 

($)

 
 

21.03

4 minutes

Intersectio

1.49

   

500

million

50 seconds

n

million

2

2

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TABLE 4 Scenarios for a Stepwise Optimization

     

Number of points of

   

Subdivided

highway

segments

intersections (

P ’s)

i

Type of

between start and

Population

Number of

optimization

Scenarios

end points for an

one-stage

size

generations

 

optimization

 

Scenario

       

One-step

1

0

3

30

2000

optimization

Scenario

       

2

0

15

150

2000

     

Number of points of

Population

Number of

Two-step

Scenario

4

intersections (

P ’s)

i

size for

each

generations

for each

optimization

3

within each segment

segment

segment

3

30

2000

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TABLE 5 Comparison Between Scenarios 1 and 2

Type of

Scenarios

Replications

Total costs

Computation time

Seeds

optimization

(million)

(hour/minute/second)

 

Scenario

1

 
  • 1 22.29

0

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