Traffic Incident Management Cost Management and Cost Recovery Primer
Chapter 7. Closing Thoughts
Overall, the research conducted for this publication did not reveal a practice of managing and recovering costs associated with traffic incident management across any of the TIM disciplines. However, in reviewing the current status of TIM programs across the Nation, the topic of TIM cost management and cost recovery is and will soon become critically important to all TIM stakeholders. This document offers a road map with potential solutions for the TIM community to employ in addressing this topic, and FHWA hopes that its contents will encourage a dialog within the TIM community about how to pay for this necessary service.
The community's needs are easy to define:
However, there are some things that the TIM community can continue to do to help identify solutions to these and other TIM challenges.
The transportation landscape is changing very quickly as the traveling public's mobility demands sharpen and tolerance for delay diminishes. It is likely that the visibility for TIM will continue to become more prevalent. It is already becoming a major focus related to the freight industry. Freight Analysis Framework projections show that freight movement will increase by more than 60 percent by 2040. With these increases, maintaining system performance for goods movement by truck will be a major challenge. Shippers will demand that the roads be cleared of incidents as quickly as possible (as will those receiving the goods, whether manufacturers or retail outlets) – for simple economic reasons.
The question will be whether TIM budgets will be sufficient to increase their operations consistent with the anticipated growth in the need for TIM. Federal transportation revenues have not increased given that the Federal gas tax rate has not changed since the 1993. Although there have been some increases at State levels, State revenue sources likewise have not kept pace.
Further, even though operations have become mainstreamed, operations still needs to compete with infrastructure for an ever decreasing pot of funds. This is exacerbated by the fact that operations are labor intensive and are therefore costly to run. For TIM, however, which requires not just significant labor resources but also costly specialized equipment and specialized operator and responder training, State DOTs may view continued funding for TIM programs with more reservations than other operations components.
As a result, there will be a continuing need for collaboration between MPOs and DOTs on TIM along with all transportation operations strategies as an alternative to the ever more expensive planning and construction of new capacity. Collaboration will need to be directed towards developing operations objectives that take into account operations performance during the planning process and incorporating operations solutions into investment decisions that support identified operations objectives.
TIM practitioners understand that TIM provides a good value for expenditures; however, the planning process will require that the case for TIM be documented in performance measures. Calculating these performance measures will require a new level of information only available through cost management activities.
One way to gain real world experience, particularly in the area of cost management, is for one or more State transportation agencies to undertake focused pilot projects to test these concepts. This would allow for dedicated and purposeful tests that would address individual elements of cost management.
The focus would be on one or more of the different phases of cost management:
These pilot projects could test how well cost management can be integrated into an agency's processes or identify the benefits of implementing these ideas and provide success stories that can be further communicated through the industry. The pilots would provide the practical experience necessary to gain acceptance within and among agencies. Multiple pilot projects could address the most significant aspects of cost management:
This primer was undertaken to share the concepts of cost management and cost recovery, but without the existence of a deeply ingrained practice in this area, for the most part, it presents model policies driven by best practices in related areas. An important observation is that State transportation agencies adopt innovations over time, and different parts of an organization do not adopt an innovation simultaneously. As with other new methods, agencies can expect cost management and cost recovery techniques to continue to become more important over time.
Practitioners, especially TIM mid-level managers, should consider adopting policies and incorporating the lessons presented in this primer. Readers are encouraged to visit the primary sources for information about the principles of TIM cost management and cost recovery to obtain detailed information on related issues:
The subject of cost management and cost recovery could benefit from additional research in areas such as:
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration