A hierarchical control framework for coordination of intersection signal timings in all traffic regimes

Goof Sterk van de Weg, Hai L. Vu, Andreas Hegyi, Serge Paul Hoogendoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we develop a hierarchical approach to optimize the signal timings in an urban traffic network taking into account the different dynamics in all traffic regimes. The proposed hierarchical control framework consists of two layers. The first layer--the network coordination layer--uses a model predictive control strategy based on a simplified traffic flow model to provide reference outflow trajectories. These reference outflow trajectories represent average desired link outflows over time. These are then mapped to green-red switching signals which can be applied to traffic lights. To this end, the second layer--the individual intersection control layer--then selects at every intersection the signal timing stage that realizes an outflow which has the smallest error with respect to the reference outflow trajectory. The proposed framework is tested using both macroscopic and microscopic simulations. It is shown that the control framework can outperform a greedy control policy that maximizes the individual intersection outflows, and the control framework can distribute the queues over the network in a way that the network outflow is improved. Simulations using a macroscopic model allow the direct application of the reference outflows computed by the network coordination layer, and the results indicate that the mapping of the reference outflows to the detailed signal timings by the individual intersection control layer only introduces a small performance loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1815-1827
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • intersection coordination.
  • link transmission model
  • Model predictive control
  • signal timings
  • urban traffic network control

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