Reducing congestion – Some examples from FHWA of operational strategies

An FHWA Office of Operations report, 2010 Urban Congestion trends: Enhancing System Reliability with Operations, emphasizes the need for more effective use of innovative traffic management and operational strategies. The report details successful strategies states and communities are using:

  • Tyler, Texas achieved a 22 percent reduction in travel time, 49 percent reduction in delay and 50 percent reduction in stops with an annual net benefit of $1.6 million to users by implementing proactive Adaptive Signal Control Technologies (ASCT).
  • In Los Angeles, congestion was reduced on main shipping corridor I710 with the ‘Big-Rig’ program – a form of Traffic Incident Management that uses technology and large tow trucks to identify and aggressively remove crashes and stalled trucks. Three minutes of time savings on an average day and nine minutes of time savings on the worst day for a 30 minute free –flow trip were achieved.
  • Ohio DOT developed an extensive “maintenance of traffic” policy for traffic management in work zones through the analysis of hundreds of work-zone crashes. Work zone crash reports were evaluated in real time to identify locations with unusually high crash rates and field visits were carried out to identify and alleviate causes. This included limiting the number of lanes in work zones that could be closed during peak periods. ODOT estimated a 37% reduction in crashes between 2001 and 2009 using these techniques. More information on work zone management can be found here.
  • Indiana State Police through the ‘IN-TIME’ traffic management initiative used software to produce three-dimensional measurements of a crash scene from photographs. This reduced the number of field measurements required and allowed police to open lanes to through traffic more quickly. An estimated saving of 900 hours of delay was achieved through the use of this technique for 135 crashes.

TRB has addressed the subject of congestion through the lens of business processes in a recent report, Guide to Integrating Business Processes to Improve Travel Time Reliability: “The report for this project is based on a series of case studies that describe successful business processes. The case studies show how business processes were successfully reengineered in operational areas such as traffic incident management (TIM), work zone management, planned special event management, road weather management, and traffic control system management. Students of traffic operations will recognize these subject areas as corresponding to five of the seven causes of nonrecurring traffic congestion. (The two omissions concern inadequate base roadway capacity and fluctuations in travel demand.)”