Self-organization of surface transportation networks

David Levinson, Bhanu Yerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


This research investigates the self-organization of surface transportation networks. Using a travel demand model coupled with revenue, cost, and investment models, experiments are run under a variety of parameters on a grid network. It is found that roads, contiguous sections of multiple links operating with similar characteristics, and hierarchies of roads emerge under a broad range of assumptions from networks with neither defined roads nor clearly organized hierarchies. The factors that drive this are the (dis)economies of scale, the presence of boundaries, and any initial asymmetry in the network. This research thus finds that roads and hierarchies, which are often thought to be the product of conscious design, can also arise without such intention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Network evaluations
  • Network growth
  • Self-organization


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