The National Academies

NCHRP 03-114 [Active]

Planning and Evaluating Active Traffic Management Strategies

  Project Data
Funds: $700,000
Staff Responsibility: B. Ray Derr
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Beverly Kuhn
Effective Date: 1/16/2014
Completion Date: 7/15/2016


The objective of this research is to develop a guide to planning and evaluating active traffic management for recurrent and nonrecurrent conditions. The guide should be useful to local and state transportation agencies (including transit and metropolitan planning organizations) in:
  • Identifying conditions that make a corridor a good candidate for the implementation of ATM.
  • Helping the agency develop performance goals for the corridor (including the selection of appropriate performance measures). These performance goals should address safety, congestion, and travel time reliability for all users of the corridor. For transit and freight, consideration should be given to using performance measures and goals different than those for passenger vehicles.
  • Identifying the ATM strategies that are likely to contribute to meeting those performance goals across the full range of operating conditions for that corridor (e.g., incidents, special events, evacuation).
  • Selecting deterministic, simulation, and/or other analysis tools suitable for evaluating the likely impacts of a planned installation, conducting scenario planning, analyzing the system performance in real-time, and conducting after-action evaluations. Tools should be (1) configurable for local conditions, (2) effective for oversaturated conditions (including the analysis of bottleneck migration), and (3) able to assess the effect of the deployment of multiple strategies, either incrementally or all-at-once. Qualitative and other alternative approaches should be included to overcome data, staff expertise, and other constraints.
  • Using performance data (field data, probe data, or synthetic) for activities such as real-time system monitoring and operations, agency dashboard, performance trend analysis, and performance-based planning to support ATM deployment.
  • Developing a budget and staffing plan for installing, operating, and maintaining the system.
  • Demonstrating to senior management, elected officials, and the public the value of the selected ATM strategies for that corridor.
  • Identifying and addressing institutional and other barriers associated with the deployment, maintenance, and operation of ATM strategies.

The interim report was received and discussed at a meeting with the panel in April 2015. The Literature Review is available. The interim report included a interim version of the guide and this is being revised based on the panel review. It is expected to be made available on this webpage by December 2015.


PHASE I—Development of the Interim Guide and a Plan for Phase II

Deliverables in this phase shall include:
  1. Critical review of existing literature and analysis tools related to ATM. Domestic information should be prioritized, augmented by international information that may be applicable to U.S. conditions.
  2. A detailed assessment of ATM strategies, including relevant performance measures and analysis tools; information on costs and staffing requirements to deploy, operate, and maintain them; information on the benefits accruing to travelers and freight; and conflicts with design, traffic control device, and other standards.
  3. White paper on common institutional issues related to the planning, programming, deployment, operation, and maintenance of ATM, including outreach to decisionmakers and the public. The paper should also compile good approaches for addressing these issues.
  4. Interim Guide based on existing information. Gaps in knowledge and opportunities to develop a more robust guide should be described. Note: Proposals should include a draft outline for this guide.
  5. Plan for conducting original research to address the gaps and opportunities identified in the Interim Guide that will provide the greatest increase in its value to practitioners. The plan must be consistent with the project budget.
  6. Interim Report that documents deliverables 1 through 5 of Phase I no later than 12 months after the start of the contract.
PHASE II—Conduct of Original Research and Development of the Final Guide
Deliverables in this phase shall include:
  1. Revised Interim Guide addressing the panel’s comments and a point-by-point response to those comments. It is expected that this deliverable will be published as an NCHRP web-only document to provide assistance to practitioners while the Final Guide is being prepared.
  2. Working papers documenting the outcome of the various tasks of the plan for original research.
  3. Final Guide incorporating the results of the original research and any other significant material that has come to light during the course of the project.
  4. Final report that documents the entire research effort including an implementation plan.

Recent initiatives in the United States and Europe have pointed to the largely untapped potential of Active Traffic Management (ATM), which is “the ability to dynamically manage recurrent and non-recurrent congestion based on prevailing and predicted traffic conditions” (FHWA Active Traffic Management and Demand Website). Some examples of ATM strategies include dynamic lane use control, adaptive traffic signal control, dynamic speed limits, queue warning, and adaptive ramp metering. One common theme from recent workshops conducted by the FHWA on ATM has been that public agencies are highly interested in ATM strategies; however, a major barrier to deployment is uncertainty about the operational, reliability, and safety impacts and resulting benefits. Key questions that agencies need to answer before funding ATM systems include: (1) What are the impacts seen by agencies that have deployed ATM systems? (2) How do these impacts translate into benefits both to the traveling public and to the deploying agency(ies)? (3) How can we estimate the impacts of alternative ATM systems in our state? (4) What benefits and impacts can be reasonably expected on specific roadways in our state if deployed? Another area of interest is the life-cycle costs and resources required to operate and maintain ATM systems. In this time of budget and staffing uncertainty, agencies need to consider issues such as: (1) operations and maintenance resource and management demands and challenges associated with ATM systems; (2) medium- to long-term sensitivity of ATM effectiveness and benefits to operations and maintenance resource levels and vigilance; (3) integration of life-cycle costs into sustainable financial programming of ATM systems; and (4) acknowledgement of human resource demands (agency or contractor staff) for operations and maintenance functions required for ATM effectiveness. Since ATM strategies are new to many agencies and they differ in some significant ways from traditional capital projects, they can present some difficulties during the planning, programming, budgeting, and staffing phases. A guide is needed to help transportation agencies decide whether and which ATM strategies can help them achieve their objectives.

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