Office of Operations
photos of traffic merging onto congested highway, congestion in snowstorm, variable message sign, cargo, variable speed limit sign in a work zone, and a freeway at night
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Traffic Bottlenecks

Localized Bottleneck Reduction Workshop Brief

Three Localized Bottleneck Reduction (LBR) workshops were held in 2008 to bring together state and local transportation agency representatives to discuss programs to reduce bottlenecks. Workshops were held in Florida, Virginia, and Washington State in August and September 2008.


The purpose of the workshop series was to raise awareness and share ideas to assist state and local agencies to:

  • Foster dialogue and coordination between agencies across internal and external stakeholder groups.
  • Leverage limited state and local agency resources for attending workshops and training courses.
  • Maximize resources to work on creative ideas and cutting-edge solutions.
  • Stay current with innovative practices across the nation by providing a forum for stakeholders to learn about best practices.
  • Overcome challenges to building support for trying something new and removing barriers within the organizational structure of an agency.


The goals of the workshop were to:

  • Develop new champions or reenergize past champions of localized bottleneck programs.
  • Describe the benefits of a separate program on localized bottlenecks to agencies.
  • Describe to agencies examples of how to incorporate bottleneck solutions into an agency program.
  • Facilitate discussions on bottleneck programs within and across agencies to learn about their existing programs.


The message of the workshop was to reduce congestion one bottleneck at a time through identifying and providing solutions to localized bottlenecks. Participants were introduced to the concept of what a localized bottleneck is and ways to identify and implement localized bottleneck solutions. With this information, participants worked in small groups to determine how they would prioritize projects characteristics if they were to run a program. The workshop was designed to promote greater consideration of low cost, high yield projects during the planning process.


There were 78 attendees participating in three workshops that represented 28 different state and local agencies. This included 18 separate state agencies and 10 local agencies.

Key Discussion Points

The key points that were discussed included:

  • The need for a champion to develop and implement a localized bottleneck reduction program.
  • Ways to identify local bottlenecks through collection of congestion data, use of aerial photography, modeling software, and/or local knowledge of the area.
  • How to inform decision makers on the importance of a localized bottleneck program.
  • Identifying sources of funding.

Next steps: "Where do we go from here?"

FHWA will follow up with participating states to check on the benefits of the workshop program and local progress on implementing the post-workshop action items. The follow-up process will consist of FHWA proactively contacting the FHWA division participants to see if their states' participation sparked any new or different activities as a result of the workshop. This may consist of short phone interviews 6 weeks or so following the workshop.

Additionally, it is possible for the bottleneck team to visit your state. These visits could take the form of a meeting with key DOT agency and MPO officials, or even a ½-day "mini" workshop with a larger group of the same officials plus your district engineers and other interested agencies. In either case, the purpose of the visit is not to rate or otherwise judge your state's level of success, but simply to hear what kinds of activities may exist in this area, and for us to disseminate examples of good case-study projects, as well as good case-study state processes that implement chokepoint solutions. In short, a "state visit" is an opportunity for us to hear, and for your state partner to assess the opportunities to inject low cost, quick turnaround, localized projects that remediate one or more spot-specific chokepoints.

Participant feedback

Overall the workshops were well received and energized participants to take proactive action on incorporating localized bottlenecks projects into their state.

How can participants continue the momentum of the workshops?

(Even non-participants can contact to be proactive in this area.)

  • Share materials with colleagues.
  • Spread information to upper management.
  • Look closer at developing a list of bottleneck projects and ways to implement them.
  • Integrate bottleneck solutions into development of the Congestion Management Plan.
  • Within the first 3 months propose specific projects. Within the first 6 months review congestion route information. Within the first 12 months review congestion route information with team. Within the first 24 months set up a program for congestion relief that concentrates on bottlenecks.
  • Organize regional traffic operations work group.
  • Explore option of local workshop or charette to identify operations improvements.
  • Development of a plan of action, process flow diagrams, and other critical materials to establish a well established program.
  • I would like to establish the low-cost LBR program as one of the elements for our Regional Concept of Transportation Operations program.
  • Information sharing to committees.
  • Meetings and peer-peer exchange.
  • Identify bottlenecks, prioritize, strategize solutions.
  • Push for spot mobility program and push for creation of "mobility" group whose charge is to manage mobility.
  • Develop mobility measures and work towards an implementation program.