I created the third Québec-Lévis connection in Cities: Skylines

No traffic impact study was published in the Quebec third link file. Never mind, here’s one made with (really) available resources.

• Also read: Even before construction, the third link has its video game… where you have to free it from the evil buses

• Also read: I have toured Quebec in flight simulatorhere is the (relatively) sad result

Before you get a volley of green wood, some clarifications are needed on this by no means scientific experiment:

  • This is not really a traffic impact study.
  • My Quebec replica is far from reality (not only does my Limoilou look like a megalopolis, but there are plenty of parking spots in Old Quebec).
  • It’s a bit silly trying to measure the impact of a new tunnel on traffic in a video game.

But just because it’s not an official study doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Also, the last point above is not entirely correct. The idea of ​​using a video game to model reality is indeed widespread. Military simulations are already done with software developed with video game engines, and in recent years there have even been some studies and theses on the potential of Cities: skylines planning urban development in real life.

why Cities: skylines

Screenshot Maxime Johnson

It is possible to know the goal of each citizen in Cities: Skylines.

The choice of Cities: skylines needed for this experience. Launched in 2015, this game is in some ways the spiritual successor of the famous one SimCitybut which is constantly evolving and allows cities to be reconstructed with much greater accuracy than the Maxis franchise.

In addition to the extensions created by its developer Colossal Order (I’ve used two here, Mass Transit to more efficiently replicate the city’s public transit system, and Green Cities so I don’t have to spend my time messing with the to deal with pollution of the Saint Lawrence River), Cities: skylines is also expanded by a community of developers releasing mods (modifications) on almost anything, be it to change the behavior of citizens, improve the game speed or optimize the route of its bus lines.

Cities: skylines is also equipped with an excellent traffic simulation engine. Each resident arrives there with a specific purpose, for example shopping or work, and can be tracked throughout their journey, including multimodal (so a citizen can drive a car to the train station, take a train, and then walk to a bus station walk if that’s the quickest option for him). And when there are too many vehicles in the same place, traffic jams arise. Citizens on the way don’t change their route, but those going to work can then choose a different route or use public transport, even if it’s not always their habit.

The simulation of the circulation of Cities: skylines Also, it is somewhat similar to professional software used by experts to model urban traffic, such as: B. Dynameq or Anylogic.

A few big cons

Above all, Skylines is a game that isn't always ideal for a simulation of the genre.

Screenshot Maxime Johnson

Above all, Skylines is a game that isn’t always ideal for a simulation of the genre.

From there to say that Cities: skylines This simulation software is worth it, there is obviously one step that should not be taken.

Cities: skylines is, after all, a game that doesn’t easily faithfully recreate a city. I tried to respect the main arteries of Quebec (particularly the highways, but also certain roads) and the main districts, but I could not accurately schematize the city.

The traffic simulation engine also takes some shortcuts. In the game, for example, citizens can sometimes be “teleported” to their starting point when there is a long-lasting traffic jam, in order to prevent the whole city from becoming a huge traffic jam.

In the creation of my city, too, it was often more important to be efficient than realistic. Because even if my goal was to build a tunnel between Quebec and Lévis, I still had to build the city first and grow it from 0 to about 250,000 inhabitants (getting to 500,000 would have been too long and wouldn’t have really made it through a more realistic simulation ), which not only involved the construction of residential, commercial and industrial areas, but also the management of landfills and cemeteries, ensuring citizens’ access to schools, the construction of an electricity network and much more.

My south bank of the river is also particularly imperfect, as my goal at the time was to limit growth there so that the percentage of population on either side of the bridges would match reality.

However, my card is quite successful. I designed it using this online tool based on a real map and then refined it to reproduce Quebec’s waterways as faithfully as possible (Cities: skylines does not allow to “paint” the river, rather it is necessary to play with the height of the sea level, create water sources and let the water flow in natural crevices in the ground). The result is not perfect (the water in my river is stagnant and the Chaudière river steps out of its bed a little in Saint-Nicolas), but the city is easily recognizable.

How I created the 3rd link

The third Québec-Lévis link at its exit near Expo-Cité

Screenshot Maxime Johnson

The third Québec-Lévis link at its exit near Expo-Cité

On the methodical side, I first rebuilt a working and stable version of Quebec and Lévis, which took about 30 hours. I cheated in a variety of ways including activation modes to get unlimited money and unlock the entire map.

When my city was big enough, I built the third connection according to the latest government plans. This begins near ExpoCité on the north side, with no exits downtown, and ends in Lévis, between 132 and Hwy 20. I chose to take a direct exit off Hwy 20 to minimize the impact on local traffic to mitigate in my simulation. The tunnels have two lanes in each direction, but without dynamic lanes reserved for taxis and public transport (as it is not yet known how these would work).

I let the city flourish undisturbed for two years, then 15 years. I then repeated the simulation, restarting the city as saved at the start of the experience, but cutting off access to the tunnel. The aim was to be able to compare the impact of the tunnel not in relation to the moment of its creation, but in relation to the case if it had never been built.

Note that I used modifications to facilitate these simulations. For example, I installed one so my public services could transport the sick and rubbish to neighboring towns if needed (a personal revenge for the fines I’ve had in Montmagny over the years), and another to clean up pollution. In order for the modeling to be the same with and without the third link, I couldn’t intervene, so the goal was that my city didn’t implode during the long simulations.

Result: Less traffic jams in the west, more traffic jams in the middle

Comparison of bridge traffic with and without the Québec-Lévis third link

Screenshot Maxime Johnson

Comparison of bridge traffic with and without the Québec-Lévis third link

My version of Quebec in Cities: skylines has major traffic problems. Notably, the Pierre Laporte Bridge is still idle northbound, the Quebec Bridge is permanently closed, and the freeway intersection between the 40 and the Duplessis Freeway is also red. There are also traffic jams in a few other places in the city, including Sainte-Foy and around Limoilou.

The third link did not change the general traffic situation. My traffic share for the whole city stayed the same with and without the tunnel, averaging between 62% and 65%.

However, the third link moved the plugs. For example, traffic on the bridges has decreased drastically. This has partially returned over time, but never to baseline levels. In the tunnels, motorists generally drove slowly in a northerly direction.

Traffic within the city has also shifted somewhat. For example, traffic was smoother in Sainte-Foy, but heavier than before in the city center and in Limoilou (and not only at the exit of the tunnel). In other words, the addition of lanes has not solved the road network problems.

It should be noted that the results varied little between the two-year simulations and the 15-year simulations. We need to find a way to model the city’s growth so that the long-term experience becomes more relevant.

Experts with a decent geospatial information system and traffic simulation tools could certainly model the whole thing much more realistically than I could, which would better assess the impact of tunneling on traffic and urban development.

Access to such studies would be desirable. Because different Cities: skylinesin life there is no function to get unlimited money and no save option to go back.


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