The National Academies

NCHRP 03-114(01) [Active]

Planning and Evaluating Active Traffic Management Strategies

  Project Data
Funds: $334,796
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Zuxuan Deng
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Dr. Beverly Thompson Kuhn
Effective Date: 8/24/2021
Completion Date: 8/24/2023


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.


The objective of this research is to complete the work begun in NCHRP Project 03-114 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. 
STATUS: Research in progress

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