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Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Linking Solutions to Problems


1.0 Introduction

Mitigating congestion is a high priority for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which has established congestion as a key focus area.8 The Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Linking Solutions to Problems Report supports this effort by providing a review of congestion in the United States. The emphasis of the Report is on measuring trends in travel time reliability and making travel more reliable through initiatives in Transportation System Management and Operations (TSM&O). The topic of congestion is clearly much broader than this focus. While the broader context of congestion is discussed, the Report spends most its effort on defining and measuring travel time reliability, and highlighting TSM&O strategies to address it. Among the important features of this report are:

Much of the Report is devoted to measuring recent trends in congestion. One of the key principles that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has promoted in congestion measurement is that the metrics used to track congestion should be based on the travel time experienced by users of the highway system. While the transportation profession has used many other types of metrics to measure congestion (such as "level of service"), travel time is a more direct measure of how congestion affects users. Travel time is understood by a wide variety of audiences — both technical and nontechnical — as a way to describe the performance of the highway system. All of the congestion metrics used in the Report are based on this concept.


8 Federal Highway Administration, FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Report, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/2003performance/index.htm.

9 Schrank, D. and Lomax, T., 2003 Annual Urban Mobility Report, Texas Transportation Institute, http://mobility.tamu.edu/.


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