TRB Paper No. 034158
Eungcheol Kim, Ph.D. Research Fellow Department of Highway Research The Korea Transport Institute (KOTI), South Korea TEL: +82319103057, FAX: +82319103235 EMAIL: 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: 14438851446, FAX: 14438858218 EMAIL: mkjha@eng.morgan.edu
and
Bongsoo Son, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Urban Planning and Engineering Yonsei University, South Korea TEL: +82221235891, FAX: +8223936298 EMAIL: 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
TRB 2003 Annual Meeting CDROM
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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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The highway alignment optimization involves finding the best highway alternative
between a pair of points (15). 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, socioeconomics, 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 (68). Recently, a solution approach (1, 45) based on genetic algorithms (GAs) for
threedimensional highway alignment optimization has been developed. The GA advantages to
the highway alignment optimization problem over traditional methods have been extensively
covered in (15); 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 rightofway
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 finetuning
search steps during successive search processes.
Theoretically, highway alignment optimization problem involves an infinite number of
alternatives to be evaluated. In previous applications (15) the optimization problem was
formulated as a cost minimization problem in which cost functions are nondifferentiable, 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 (128) 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 (15) 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 threedimensional 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
= P
0
= S
and C
n
+1
=
+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, 45). 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
=
, y
, z
,
......x
, y
, z
where: Λ = chromosome
(1)
λ = the
i
i
th
gene, for all i = 1,
.......
,3n
x
P
i
, y
, 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 problemspecific. 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
=
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 NonUniform 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
[0,1] = 1 , then
′
λ
3
k
−1
=
λ
3
k
−1
+
f
(
t
,
y
max
−
λ
3
k
−1
)
4. Whole NonUniform Mutation
(5b)
This operator applies the nonuniform 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 Twopoint 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).
When obtaining an alignment alternative through an optimization process, the expected
outputs are threedimensional coordinates of the alignment centerline. To describe highway
alignments (or centerlines of highways), a parametric representation is useful (3032). 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
( 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
ofway 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 bottomleft corner of the study region (Fig. 1)
(
x
P
i
,
y
P
i
)
= the X , Y coordinates of points of intersections,
(
x
max
,
y
max
)
= the X , Y coordinates of the topright 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 (45, 33).
The rightofway 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.
≤ 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
(3537).
• Crest Curve
A ∆ S 2 d 

= 
if 

100
2
h
+
2
h
d
o
) ^{2},
(


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
+
2
V
d
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
>
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 (13).
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 twolane highway from the center of North to SouthEast, three hills
and a creek crossing from NorthEast edge to South. Darker cells represent higher elevations.
The grid size is 200×200 ft. Our plan is to build a twolane highway connecting the start and end
points (Fig. 3) while allowing the existing road to be reoptimized. 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 (decimaltangent
value) 0.4 (2.5:1); cutting slope (decimaltangent 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 (15, 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%.
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 finetuning 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 onestep optimization while
scenario 3 is for a twostep 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 twostep 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 twostep optimization, the
three points of intersections of scenario 1 are obtained after the onestep 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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15
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 twostep 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 onestep optimization solution of scenario
1). Thus, twostep 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 twostep
optimization. Significant changes compared to onestep solution (Fig. 5) has been noted in the
solution of segment 4. For instance, the tunnel found in onestep 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.
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 nondifferentiable, 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 onestep 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.
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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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 TwoStep 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, 1012, 26 

variations 

Network 

Horizontal alignment 
optimization 
6, 1317 
Dynamic 
9, 18 

programming 

Genetic algorithms 
1 

Enumeration 
19 

Dynamic 
8, 2022 

programming 

Vertical 
Linear programming 
2728 
alignment 
Numerical research 
6, 8, 2224 
Genetic algorithms 
1 

Dynamic 
9, 18 

Horizontal and 
programming 

vertical 
Numerical research 
25 
alignment 
TwoStage 
1516 
simultaneously 
Optimization 

Genetic algorithms 
13 
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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 nonlinear 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 onestage 
size 
generations 

optimization 

Scenario 

Onestep 
1 
0 
3 
30 
2000 
optimization 
Scenario 

2 
0 
15 
150 
2000 

Number of points of 
Population 
Number of 

Twostep 
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 

0 
/ 32 