Optimisation of rural roads planning based on multi‑modal travel: a multi‑service accessibility study in Nepal’s remote Karnali Province

Andries Heyns, Robert Banick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The traditional aim in transportation planning is to maximise gains associated with vehicular travel distances or times, indirectly prioritising populations that live near existing or proposed roads—remote populations that first require hours of walking to reach roads are overlooked. In this paper, rural roads optimisation is performed using a new model that estimates proposed roads’ accessibility gains, considering reductions in vehicular travel time and reductions in walking time required by remote populations to reach them. This ensures that even the most remote populations that may benefit from new roads are included in their evaluation. When presented with a large number of proposed roads and the requirement of determining a plan within a suitable budget, it is often infeasible to construct all proposed roads. In such instances, subsets of well-performing road-combinations that are evaluated with respect to multiple objectives need to be identified for analysis and comparison–for which multi-objective optimisation approaches can be employed. Traditional optimisation approaches return a small number of road-combination plans only, limited to user-specified budget levels and objective weight sets. This paper presents an innovative heuristic solution approach that overcomes such limitations by returning thousands of well-performing solutions scattered across a budget span, and not limited in number to user-specified objective weight sets at fixed budget levels. The heuristic is employed along with a more traditional weighted-sum integer-linear programming approach to determine high-quality road-combination plans selected from 92 roads recently proposed for construction in Nepal’s remote Karnali province. Using these two approaches with inputs from the new multi-modal accessibility model, it is illustrated how rural roads planning can be performed to the benefit of rural populations regardless of their proximity to roads. New planning and analysis benefits of the heuristic are demonstrated by comparing its solutions to those determined by the weighted-sum approach, providing a level of detail and sophistication not previously possible for rural roads planning and analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalTransportation
ISSN0049-4488
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25.10.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • accessibility
  • genetic algorithm
  • integer-linear programming
  • optimisation
  • rural development

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