Adolf D. May, Jr.


Adolf D. May, Jr.Since he entered the transportation field over 45 years ago, Dolf May has made significant contributions to the design, operation, and simulation of freeways, rural highways, urban streets and intersections.  Much of Dolf’s career, over 37 years, has been as an educator and researcher.  He has supervised the research of over 25 doctoral students.  He has published over 300 technical papers and reports.  To quote Donald S. Berry, Murphy Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University:  

Dr. May is a top-notched researcher.  Many of his papers are classics, such as A Friction Concept of Traffic Flow (1959), A Deterministic

Queuing Model (1967), Evaluation of Single- and Multiple- Regime Traffic Flow Models (1968), Optimization Techniques Applied to Improving Freeway Operations (1974), Queuing Supply Modeling for Transportation Systems Management (1981), and Models for Freeway Corridor Analysis (1981).  

Paul P. Jovanis of the University of California at Davis and one of Dolf’s former students comments on the enduring quality of his work:  

His 1967 study Simulation Study of Load Factor at Signalized Intersections, published in Traffic Engineering magazine (1968), literally created a sensation and resulted, 18 years later, in the use of delay as the level of service criterion for signalized intersections.    

In 1990 Dolf was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of the quality of his work in traffic engineering and traffic flow in particular.  Out of the 1,000 engineers so elected, Dolf is one of fewer than 20 who practice transportation engineering.  He has received the Theodore M. Matson Award (1992), the Transportation Research Board’s 1994 Distinguished Lectureship, the American society of Civil Engineering’s Francis C. Turner Lecturer, an CALTRANS 1987 Award for Excellence in Research.  

Dolf’s career included working for a consulting firm, serving as the first Director of the Chicago Area Expressway Surveillance Project for the Illinois Department of Transportation and a brief tour of duty on the staff of the Institute of Traffic Engineers as the Assistant Secretary.  

Dolf’s contribution to the science of transportation engineering has impacted each of us.  His contributions to the Highway Capacity Manual, the 1990 textbook that he authored --Traffic Flow Fundamentals, the articles, technical papers, the seminars, the lectures, the committees that he has served on as a member or as chair have advanced our profession.  At one time or another most of us have been a student of Dolf May.  

Today we celebrate Dolf’s service to our profession by awarding him with Honorary membership.  Dolf joins two others from the San Francisco Bay Section who have been so honored-- Ross T. Shoaf and James H. Kell.  


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