The National Academies

SHRP 2 C02 [Completed]

A Systems-Based Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making

  Project Data
Funds: $825,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Principal Investigator: JHugh Louch
Effective Date: 2/28/2007
Completion Date: 10/30/2009

Project Snapshot. More details below.

(Project Number)
Impact on Practice
Product Status
*Performance Measures for Highway Capacity Decision Making (C02)
A framework and web-based tool for selecting performance measures to evaluate major transportation projects. It details how performance measures can be used in long-range planning, programming, environmental review, and permitting.
Beyond their analytical value, these performance measures form the basis for transparent and objective decisions that help stakeholders to understand transportation problems, which builds project support and avoids or reduces delay.
The report is available at http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/161859.aspx. The performance measurement framework is available in TCAPP at www.transportationforcommunities.com

Staff Responsibility: Stephen J. Andrle

Measures of transportation system performance are integral to demonstrating the need for highway capacity expansion, evaluating alternative solutions, and monitoring performance. To date, agencies have generally had greatest success with operations and maintenance related measures, such as pavement quality, bridge deficiency, and safety; and capacity related measures such as volume-to-capacity ratio, or level-of-service rating. Well-established data collection and analysis techniques have reinforced the use of these and similar measures as tools for decision making.

The public continues to be concerned about the impacts of adding highway capacity and demands even broader analysis. Now measures addressing environmental justice, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure vulnerability to climate change, air toxics exposure, consistency with land use and other plans, community cohesion, and visual quality are of interest. Transportation agencies generally do not have well-developed data collection and analysis techniques in these new areas. Even selecting the measures is a matter for public input and debate. Some of the challenges that must be overcome include performance measure design, data collection, target setting, and interpretation and use of results. Better approaches are needed for quantifying transportation system performance in non-traditional areas. The ability to better understand system-level performance in terms of economic, mobility, accessibility, safety, environmental, community, and social considerations leads to more collaborative decision making during system planning and project development.

Performance measures have communication value as well as analytical value because a better collective understanding is achieved of the transportation problem being addressed. Each constituency can see a measure that relates to its concerns, and each constituency can better see the concerns of others. A fundamental principle of SHRP 2 Capacity research is that the right people must be at the table at the right time with the right information. Performance measures that stakeholders help to select that speak to their concerns is a big step toward making the best transportation decision and delivering it with a minimum of delay.

The objective of this project was to develop a performance measurement framework that informs a collaborative decision-making process. The measures reflect mobility, accessibility, economic, safety, environmental, watershed, habitat, community, and social considerations.

The report devotes a chapter to each of the five performance areas, covering for each the background literature, key findings, identification of performance factors, a selection of measures for each factor, and case study references. For example, under the “community cohesion” factor, five measures are suggested:

  • Number of homes and businesses to be relocated
  • Forecasted change in walking trips
  • Change in travel times to neighborhood points of congregation
  • Key pedestrian routes severed
  • Key pedestrian routes reconnected.

Appendices provide detailed write-ups of case studies conducted as part of the project and a discussion of data sources, data gaps, and high-value data investment opportunities. The information in this report will prove valuable to decision makers in state departments of transportation; planning, operations, and environmental review staff in all transportation agencies; environmental resource agencies; nongovernmental conservation organizations; metropolitan planning organizations; elected officials; and the public.

The research team also created a web-based library of performance measures, emphasizing environmental and community measures. This product links performance measures to key decision points in the transportation project planning process. The performance measures library is included in the newly released website: Transportation for Communities—Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP) at: transportationforcommunities.com. TCAPP is the framework that will eventually house all products of Capacity research.

Status: The project is complete. The final report has been published as SHRP 2 Report S2-C02-RR: Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making.

Product Availability: SHRP 2 Report S2-C02-RR: Performance Measurement Framework for Highway Capacity Decision Making is available online as an Adobe PDF document and in hardcopy through the TRB bookstore. The web-based library of performance measures is available at http://shrp2webtool.camsys.com/Default.aspx. The library can also be accessed through TCAPP at www.transportationforcommunities.com.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=2184