The National Academies

NCHRP 20-07/Task 345 [Final]

Planning for Transportation System Management & Operations
[ NCHRP 20-07 (Research for AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $80,000
Principal Investigator: Malcolm Baird
Effective Date: 10/1/2013
Completion Date: 6/30/2014


The objectives of this research were to understand the state of the practice in highway and traffic operations program planning and to begin defining alternative approaches to develop and administer these plans.


The contractor's final report is available below.



Transportation System Management & Operations (TSM&O or “Operations”) activities within state transportation agencies are diverse and encompass functions within traffic engineering, highway maintenance, highway safety, and transportation emergency management business areas. These activities encompass both the planning, deployment, and preservation of transportation operations infrastructure including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS); and the delivery of highway network operations services such as coordinated traffic incident response. Highway and traffic operations program plans can support coordination across these business areas by:

• Defining and contextualizing program activities and subprograms

• Establishing roles, responsibilities, and strategic relationships

• Clarifying program goals, objectives, and performance measures

• Determining and prioritizing intended actions to improve program processes, partnerships, and technologies

• Committing specific financial and human resources to implement the intended actions


Highway and traffic operations program plans are not consistently developed, and are variably comprehensive. As a result, highway and traffic operations program plans are typically not readily comparable between states, and usually are not sustained through multiple iterations of program planning. By contrast, Strategic Highway Safety Plans are standardized in general format and content under rather extensive federal and national guidance, and are routinely shared for comparison between states. Strategic Highway Safety Plans are usually updated every one to three years, and are integral to the regular administration of the affected state highway safety program (e.g., organizational structure, staffing approaches, corporate and program budgeting, funding mechanisms and processes, performance measurement and performance management practices).



1. Review relevant domestic and international literature, particularly the work done for the FHWA on Planning for Operations.

2. Synthesize existing practices within state transportation agencies in the development and application of program plans for operations.

3. Complete case studies of current lead states in operations program planning and operations plan development. Identify best practices and models and critical factors that foster or hinder the development of these plans.

4. Scan and evaluate opportunity state locations for model highway and traffic operations program plan development.

5. Facilitate peer exchange and peer network development between model program plan pilot states.

6. Produce a report recommending key actions and roles at the national level that can support the successful development and administration of state highway and traffic operations program plans.

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