Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

An Interim Guidebook on the Congestion Management Process
in Metropolitan Transportation Planning

4.0 Development and Implementation of an Objectives-Driven CMP


Many MPOs already have existing systems or processes for congestion management, based on metropolitan planning rules and guidance developed under ISTEA and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21), the successor authorization act for surface transportation. The statewide planning requirements spelled out in SAFETEA-LU also stipulate that “For purposes of this section... State laws, rules, or regulations pertaining to congestion management systems or programs may constitute the congestion management process under this section... if the Secretary finds that the State laws, rules, or regulations are consistent with, and fulfill the intent of, the purposes of this section...”

Figure 4. CMP: An Alternative Process

Figure 4 - flow chart - The CMP as an iterative process.  Congestion management objectives flow to the congestion management process, from there strategies are incorporated into the MTP, and finally the strategies are implemented and monitored.
If no existing plan, program, system, or process can serve as the basis for the CMP, MPOs can look to several excellent models from across the country, and many resources from FHWA/FTA, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), and other sources to help them get started.

As noted above, the CMP is based upon regional operations objectives articulated in the metropolitan transportation plan. The congestion management process incorporates specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (“SMART”) objectives that reflect regional goals.


The CMP for any given region should be tailored to address the most critical needs of that region. The transportation planning process should already have provided input on the regional vision, goals, and objectives to which the CMP must respond. To gain an understanding of the needs of various stakeholders in the planning process with respect to congestion, it is important to reach out to operating agencies, advocacy groups, commercial interests, and members of the public.

  • Decide on what you want to accomplish.

There should be general agreement on how the regional goals and objectives expressed in the MTP should be articulated in the context of the CMP. Different stakeholders will have different objectives, which must be accommodated in the overall process. An important place to begin this is through the public participation process of the MPO, where community visions are transformed into goals, objectives, and measurable performance indicators. And, the intent for the CMP to feed projects and strategies into the metropolitan transportation plan and TIP should be made clear.

  • Develop a work team within the MPO and other necessary organizational arrangements such as a Steering Committee.

Existing organizational arrangements may be appropriate, or new committees can be formed. But, it is important for the groups to have broad membership of planning and operations staffs from the member organizations of the MPO – local jurisdictions, State DOTs, and public transportation operators.

  • Prepare a timeline for developing the CMP.

While the application of the CMP to particular issues should be open-ended, there should be a strict timetable for developing the process. As with any plan strategy, it is good practice to have an implementation plan that includes specific tasks, schedules, levels of effort, and responsibilities for carrying out the CMP. Again, if the CMP is part of the MTP, CMP strategies can be treated just like the other implementation measures. But, whether or not the CMP is prepared as an element of the MTP, the timeline ought to allow time for the CMP to “feed” projects and strategies to the MTP development process. The timeline also should identify an update schedule, as well as data collection and analysis activities to support the periodic assessment of the effectiveness of implemented congestion management strategies.

  • Conduct a CMP self assessment.

The purpose of the self-assessment is to determine where your MPO stands in adapting an existing congestion management system or plan into a CMP (that is, which elements of your CMP meet “best practice” levels), or what remains to be done in developing the CMP from square one. The self-assessment will require you to review and assess what you are doing now to address congestion, not only in terms of long-range planning, but the efforts of operating agencies to institute short-range programs to manage congestion.

In the course of the self-assessment, you will identify strengths and weaknesses of current efforts, in terms of establishing a collaborative, regional process; developing operations objectives; deriving appropriate measures of performance; instituting data collection and data management systems; identifying current congested locations and forecasting future congestion; and selecting and analyzing potential congestion management strategies. Ultimately, the self assessment process will help you to identify areas where you wish to make improvements improvement as you implement the CMP.

CMP Reflects Scenario Planning and Visioning Leading to MTP

By institutionalizing an objective-driven, performance based planning process incorporating a range of stakeholders, the planning process will continue to evolve in response to the growing challenges of metropolitan transportation planning. The MTP that results from this process will clearly address management and operations of the transportation system. It should include:

  • A vision, goals and objectives that address management and operations;
  • Measurable objectives that allow the region to track progress toward achieving its goals;
  • Clear strategies for management and operations, backed by specific performance measures for evaluation; and
  • A congestion management process that responds to regional priorities and to the interests and concerns of all of the region’s stakeholders – including system operators.

Since the CMP is an integral part of the planning process, rather than a stand-alone effort, it incorporates the knowledge and understanding of all of the players who contribute to the development of the MTP. It also reflects the insight achieved through the process of establishing a regional vision and goals, and exercises such as scenario planning, which enable participants in the process to gain a richer understanding of possible futures and potential responses.

MPO/State Roles Should be Clearly Defined

While MPOs generally welcome, and benefit from the involvement of the state DOT in the metropolitan planning process, the active participation of the DOTs in the congestion management process is particularly important. Not only is the perspective of the DOT as an operator important in the sharing of data and developing congestion mitigation strategies, it is important that the state DOT appreciate the perspective and priorities of other participants in the congestion management process. “Acceptable” levels of congestion may differ according to transportation facility, geographic location (metropolitan area or subarea), and/or time of day. For instance, a higher level of congestion may be acceptable in a transit-oriented development (TOD) area, where planners hope to encourage the use of public transportation, while system operators may wish to maintain a higher level of service in areas poorly served by transit. In any case, the operators of facilities – including the state DOT – should be sensitive to the priorities of various stakeholders in the congestion management process. Participants in the CMP, including the MPO, state DOTs, transit operators, and other public or quasi-public operators should be flexible in selecting appropriate levels of service for critical components of the regional transportation network. “Performance measures,” according to the Final Rule on metropolitan and statewide planning, “should be established cooperatively by the state(s), affected MPO(s), and local officials in consultation with the operators of major modes of transportation in the coverage area. (Statewide Transportation Planning; Metropolitan Transportation Planning; Final Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 72, No. 30; February 14, 2007; Section 450.320 (pp. 7274 to 7275))”

Regional Collaboration and Cooperation

Collaboration on regional operations, including the development and implementation of the congestion management process, is essential. Collaboration enables regional, strategic development of projects and policies that have a regional effect on users, including activities such as incident management, advanced traveler information services, public safety and security, management of the impacts of special events, and implementation of electronic payment measures. A common thread in all of these activities is agreement upon objectives and performance measures, so that projects can be evaluated on the same footing. Furthermore, collaboration among operators, service providers, and planners for all surface modes affecting, or affected by, congestion, helps to answer questions about the long-term operation, integration, and evolution of facilities and services.

Appropriate levels of collaboration and cooperation also help to identify the many stakeholders and interested parties who should be at the table sharing information and making operations decisions. This is also one of the objectives of the process that leads to the creation and ongoing maintenance of a Regional ITS Architecture, where the requirements of the various affected actors are accommodated through the development of a regional concept of operations. Finally, an understanding of how each participant perceives the individual agency’s roles and responsibilities helps to improve accountability for improved system performance.

While a measure of collaboration and cooperation can be achieved through ad hoc or informal channels, an ongoing process that yields lasting value depends upon a consistent structure or framework for action, collaboratively developed and accepted policies, and resources for sustaining and implementing plans and programs. If no existing mechanisms, such as MPO committees that can assume responsibility for a collaborative CMP, are available, some forum for perpetuating the process should be established. Policy and technical committees can be used to get the word out to implementing agencies on the merits of the CMP measures. The local government representatives can make sure that strategies get reflected in their capital programs and operating budgets. Also, the state DOT is usually represented on these committees and their representatives can be asked to include the appropriate CMP measures in the state capital programs and operations budgets for the state system. Transit operator(s) represented on those committees can assist in proposing CMP measures and strategies, as well as include agreed upon strategies in their project and strategy submittals for inclusion in the plan and TIP.

  • Identify and engage other key stakeholders.
    • Obvious stakeholders include system operators, commuter advocacy groups; reach out also to commercial vehicle operators, shippers, Chambers of Commerce, service industries.
  • Describe the purpose and value in achieving collaboration.
    • Be prepared to answer question, “What’s in it for me?” Use local data or national averages to calculate costs in fuel, productivity, air quality, etc.
  • Get buy-in from decision-makers.
    • Make sure that CMP is aligned with goals and objectives of local elected and appointed officials.
  • Commonly used methods of collaboration.
    • Engage interest groups by going to them, rather than inviting them to your turf; “surface the discontent”; make them vital elements in solution, rather than observers or passive beneficiaries.


Objectives are specific, measurable statements relating to the attainment of goals. In the MTP, congestion objectives should be regional or multi-jurisdictional in nature and cannot be achieved by a single entity or jurisdiction. In conjunction with selecting congestion objectives, performance measures are developed to assess whether or not the objective has been met.

In all cases, objectives should have “SMART” characteristics, as defined below:

  • Specific – It provides sufficient specificity to guide formulation of viable approaches to achieving the objective without dictating the approach.
  • Measurable – It includes quantitative measurements, saying how many or how much should be accomplished. Tracking progress against the objective enables an assessment of effectiveness of actions.
  • Achievable – Objectives should be realistic and within the reach of the various participants in the CMP. Objectives should not represent a “wish list,” but should take into consideration projections and trends used elsewhere in the metropolitan transportation planning process.
  • Realistic – The objective can reasonably be accomplished within the limitations of resources and other demands. Still, the objective may be a “stretch” and require substantial coordination, collaboration, and investment to achieve. Since a judgment on how realistic the objective is cannot be fully evaluated until after strategies and approaches are defined, the objective may need to be adjusted iteratively.
  • Time-bound – The objective identifies a timeframe within which it will be achieved (e.g., “by the year 2020”).

By developing “SMART” objectives, system performance can be examined and monitored over time.


As discussed before, the CMP is an integral element of the metropolitan transportation planning process. By applying the principles of objectives-based, performance-driven planning, the CMP actualizes the vision and goals defined for the region through the planning process.

Following the development of the Congestion Management Process, the MPO will want to focus on developing an implementation strategy. The MPO can implement the CMP in a number of different ways, or in a combination of different ways. Strategies, projects, or programs identified through the CMP can be realized:

  • Directly, through the MTP and TIP;
  • Indirectly, by working with the state DOT or local government members;
  • By encouraging government agencies to include CMP activities in their operating budgets; and
  • By encouraging that state or local agencies sponsoring congestion mitigation strategies incorporate CMP alternatives analyses during project development.

Applying the CMP in developing the MTP

The congestion management process provides a mechanism for identifying short-, medium-, and long-term strategies for addressing congestion on a systemwide, corridor-level, or site-specific basis. Once operations objectives relevant to the area in question have been established, the CMP draws upon appropriate performance measures to identify specific congestion problems. Data from the MPO’s resources or from the appropriate operating agency is used to characterize the nature of the congestion problems, and technical tools are applied to help identify appropriate strategies.

The CMP uses a cooperative approach to involve both affected operators and the public in a consideration of strategies, both in terms of the effectiveness of proposed solutions and the acceptability to various stakeholders. Together, affected parties and system operators determine the availability of resources and the timing for implementation of proposed strategies. The actions identified through the CMP then become part of the alternatives analysis process, in which proposed solutions to the broad array of regional problems are considered in context. Actions offered through the CMP are then incorporated into the MTP, based on how they compete with projects and programs proposed by other interests during the planning process.

Identifying and selecting strategies through the CMP

The CMP may ultimately offer a single project or program to address congestion in a particular circumstance, but it is more likely that an array of alternatives will be put forward that can individually or collectively contribute to a reduction in congestion or a mitigation of the problems caused by congestion. The CMP continues to be relevant once these broad-brushed alternatives are laid out in the MTP. Products from the CMP will continue to be used in subsequent analyses, including the use of data and study results in the project development process.

The CMP might also be employed in selecting projects for incorporation in the TIP. Capital and non-capital projects from the MTP proposed to be funded under 23 U.S.C. and 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53, or requiring action from FHWA or FTA, are included in the TIP. The CMP offers a way to prioritize projects in the event that funds for implementation are limited, or to establish the “agreed to” list of projects to be included in the first year of the TIP.

Relationship of the CMP to the ITS Regional Architecture

The CMP and the Regional ITS Architecture are both technical tools that assist planners and system operators in developing and selecting strategies for improving the movement of people and goods in a region. The Regional ITS Architecture focuses on the application of information and communications technology to transportation problems in a technologically coordinated way. It is a common framework that guides practitioners in establishing communications (and, ideally, integration) across technology applications and helps them to choose the most appropriate strategies for processing transportation information. The Regional ITS Architecture defines the system components, key functions, organizations involved in developing an architecture, and the type of information to be shared between organizations and between parts of the system.

While the CMP is not focused on any particular set of strategies, an understanding of the Regional ITS Architecture is crucial in appreciating the existing and future interconnections, or even the simple ability to communicate, between agencies and systems. The ITS Architecture, which is by design a living document, to be updated on a periodic basis, provides an institutional framework as well as a vision of the interconnectedness among technologies, systems, and subsystems.

Applying the CMP in Nonattainment TMAs

SAFETEA-LU requires that “for transportation management areas classified as non-attainment for ozone or carbon monoxide pursuant to the Clean Air Act, Federal funds may not be advanced in such area for any highway project that will result in a significant increase in the carrying capacity for single-occupant vehicles unless the project is addressed through a congestion management process.” While capacity-expanding projects are not prohibited, the CMP requirement means that the MPO must consider alternatives to capacity increases, and that measures would be incorporated into the project to make the most efficient use of the new capacity once it has been constructed. In all TMAs, attainment or non-attainment, the CMPs should identify strategies that complement proposed improvements. These may be measures such as ramp meters for new freeway lanes or access management on a parallel arterial. These complementary strategies extend the life of the SOV capacity in which we invest.

In ozone and CO non-attainment TMAs, MPOs must establish a congestion management process that gives priority to strategies that reduce congestion and improve the movement of people and goods without requiring the construction of new highway capacity. The decision process in dealing with this restriction on SOV capacity-expanding projects must be documented as part of the CMP in these areas.

Addressing Recurring and Nonrecurring Congestion

The CMP should enable the MPO to address both recurring congestion (usually caused by “bottlenecks” where capacity is constricted or where merging and weaving patterns cause conflicts) and non-recurring congestion (resulting from incidents, special events, or other phenomena like adverse weather). Either type of congestion may require analysis at the corridor or facility level in order to pinpoint problem locations or to identify and evaluate potential mitigation strategies.

The CMP should also be designed to enable assessment of activities that may not apply to a particular location, such as incident response strategies. Incident-related delay accounts for a large and growing proportion of travel delay, particularly in regions where travel demand is already stressing an over-burdened system.

The Puget Sound regional Council (PSRC) has demonstrated that by providing better processes to understand the congestion data, a greater success has been realized in stakeholders’ understanding of projects.

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has used innovative methods of presenting congestion data so that stakeholders better understand the region’s transportation policy and planning related to CMP. This data has also proven very useful in educating stakeholders and helping stakeholders prioritize projects within a corridor given fiscal limitations and competing fiscal demands of multiple jurisdictions. The clear presentation of data helps them ensure that projects are selected that address the most severe congestion.

PSRC has partnered with WSDOT both to obtain and analyze data. The agency has developed innovative visuals to communicate the complexities of congestion. These include “brain scan” visual using colors to show the level of congestion based on lane occupancy throughout the 24-hour period along a corridor. Other visuals used are three-dimensional images that show the greatest level of delay as bars of varying heights on a regional map. These tools have been so successful that they are being shown widely throughout the region and helping to advance understanding of traffic congestion. These tools that have been used through the region on corridor studies will also be used in PSRC’s stand-along CMP report, which is under development.

Case study graphic of before improvement and after improvement  "brain scan".  This graphics indicates congestion levels along a section of highway 367 using color codes to indicate intensity of congestion.

Linkages to the Statewide Planning Process and STIP

The Final Rule on Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning makes it clear that coordination and consultation between the state Department of Transportation and the MPO is required; state DOTs are “encouraged to rely on information, studies, or analyses provided by the MPOs for portions of the transportation system located in metropolitan planning areas” (§450.208). Furthermore, the statewide planning process “shall (to the maximum extent practicable) be consistent with the development of applicable regional intelligent transportation systems (ITS) architectures. . . ” The Final Rule also encourages “consultation with, or joint efforts among, the State(s), MPO(s), and/or public transportation operators (§450.212). The States should be partners in the development and application of the CMP, particularly for portions of the transportation network within the MPO that are operated by the state DOT. The development and content of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) can similarly be enabled through application of the CMP.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) shows the close integration of the CMP and the LRTP for ranking projects and realizing system improvements through clearly defined performance measures.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) developed a stand-alone CMP but knew that for any congestion mitigation strategies to be implemented, they needed to be part of the LRTP. During development of its 2030 LRTP, SEMCOG provided congestion analysis results and mitigation strategy recommendations developed in the CMP report to state and local agencies. This information, along with public input, was used by state and local road and transit agencies to propose projects for the LRTP.

In the LRTP, SEMCOG uses a weighting process to prioritize regional corridors and ensure that investment occurs in the areas with greatest need. One of the eleven performance measures used to weight corridors is congestion, and a number of other factors have congestion implications, such as improvements to corridors with high transit ridership and non-motorized transportation. Therefore, the corridor prioritization process is analytically driven and integrated with the CMP.

Tying funding to the CMP

Some CMP projects and strategies can be implemented by the MPO through inclusion in the TIP. It may be necessary to convince the TIP committee or decision making body on the merits of the CMP projects by ranking projects relative to their benefits. Other CMP projects/strategies may need to be included in state or local programs to accomplish implementation.

(Those projects that support the goals and objectives of the plan should be implemented; projects should be ranked according to how well they meet the goals and objectives of the plan.)


The Appendix to Part 450 referred to above points out the close links between the metropolitan transportation planning process as practiced by MPOs and the environmental analysis undertaken by project sponsors. Legal guidance previously distributed to planning agencies (Memorandum: Integration of Planning and NEPA Processes, February 22, 2005; D.J. Gribbin, Chief Counsel, FHWA and Judith S. Kaleta, Acting Chief Counsel, FTA to Cindy Burbank, Associate Administrator, Office of Planning, Environment and Realty, FHWA and David A Vozzolo, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Planning and Environment, FTA) notes that “much of the data and decision-making undertaken by state and local officials during the planning process carry forward into the project development activities that follow the TIP or STIP. This means that the planning process and the environmental assessment required during project development by NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4231 et seq.) should work in tandem, with the results of the transportation planning process feeding into the NEPA process.”

The memorandum goes on to point out that this close linkage is not always observed in the course of project development. “In practice,” note the authors of the memo, “the environmental analyses produced during the NEPA process are sometimes disconnected from the analyses used to prepare transportation plans, transportation improvement programs, and supporting corridor or subarea studies. Analyses and decisions occurring during transportation planning can be ignored or redone in the NEPA process, resulting in a duplication of work and delays in implementation of transportation projects. The sharp separation between the work done during the transportation planning process and the NEPA analysis and documentation process is not necessary.” In other words, planning information can and should be incorporated into the environmental review process, rather than starting with a blank page for every project.

As further discussed in the memo, “NEPA and the government-wide regulations that carry out NEPA (40 C.F.R. Parts 1500 et seq.) clearly contemplate the integration of the NEPA process with planning processes....

  • 40 C.F.R. 1501.2 requires that Federal agencies “integrate the NEPA process with other planning at the earliest possible time to ensure that planning and (agency) decisions reflect environmental values….”

Sections of the Final Rule referring to “Transportation planning studies and project development (§450.318, p. 7274) discuss the high standards that must be met for incorporation of planning studies into the NEPA process. The Rule notes that “Publicly available documents or other source material produced by, or in support of, the transportation planning process described in this subpart may be incorporated directly or by reference into subsequent NEPA documents, in accordance with 40 CFR 1502.21, if:

  1. The NEPA lead agencies agree that such incorporation will aid in establishing or evaluating the purpose and need for the Federal action, reasonable alternatives, cumulative or other impacts on the human and natural environment, or mitigation of these impacts; and
  2. The systems-level, corridor, or subarea planning study is conducted with:
    • a. Involvement of interested State, local, Tribal, and Federal agencies;
    • b. Public review;
    • c. Reasonable opportunity to comment during the metropolitan transportation planning process and development of the corridor or subarea planning study;
    • d. Documentation of relevant decisions in a form that is identifiable and available for review during the NEPA scoping process and can be appended to or referenced in the NEPA document; and
    • e. The review of the FHWA and the FTA, as appropriate. (See 23 CFR 450.318 (b))

Appendix A to 23 CFR 450 (p. 7281), while addressing the level of detail appropriate for incorporation of planning analysis in project development studies, the Rule notes that “For purposes of transportation planning alone, a planning-level analysis does not need to rise to the level of detail required in the NEPA process. Rather, it needs to be accurate and up-to-date, and should adequately support recommended improvements in the statewide or metropolitan long-range transportation plan. The SAFETEA-LU requires transportation planning processes to focus on setting a context and following acceptable procedures. For example, the SAFETEA-LU requires a ``discussion of the types of potential environmental mitigation activities’’ and potential areas for their implementation, rather than details on specific strategies. The SAFETEA-LU also emphasizes consultation with Federal, State, and Tribal land management, wildlife, and regulatory agencies.

However, the Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ultimately will be judged by the standards applicable under the NEPA regulations and guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). To the extent the information incorporated from the transportation planning process, standing alone, does not contain all of the information or analysis required by NEPA, then it will need to be supplemented by other information contained in the EIS or EA that would, in conjunction with the information from the plan, collectively meet the requirements of NEPA.”

In this context, the CMP, if appropriately developed, can provide at a minimum a valuable starting point for the NEPA process, and ideally, could give the agency a “running start” on critical components of the NEPA process such as purpose and need, alternatives screening, among others (see section 5.2.3 for more information).

Current Practice: Linking NEPA studies with the CMS Toolbox was a logical approach given that alternatives defined with congestion relief potential would be developed, screened, and evaluated for any NEPA study underway in the region.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) serves eight counties and 116 cities in the greater Kansas City bi-state (Missouri and Kansas) region. In 2001, MARC developed an enhanced congestion management system (CMS) designed to integrate with the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and corridor evaluations, including the Major Investment Study (MIS) planning processes. In developing its CMS, MARC identified a “CMS Toolbox” that incorporated a broad catalog of potential strategies under the following headings:

  1. Highway projects;
  2. Transit projects;
  3. Bicycle and pedestrian projects;
  4. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies;
  5. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) strategies;
  6. Access management strategies;
  7. Land development strategies; and
  8. Parking management strategies.

MARC adopted a policy that its CMS Toolbox of strategies would be considered when the purpose and need for an environmental study includes congestion management. The agency wanted to directly demonstrate how any suggested capacity improvements had been evaluated using the congestion management process.

At the time MARC was developing its CMS, the agency had established a network of facilities on which it collected data, including travel time studies and traffic counts, but was only using CMS methods to support the regional planning process by providing data to potential project sponsors for the RTP and TIP. Because the system is less congested than most other metropolitan regions of comparable size, the CMS has been less of a planning focus than in other locations.

MARC wanted to develop a transparent process to show how a capacity improvement had gone through the congestion management process. Linking NEPA studies with the CMS Toolbox was a logical approach given that alternatives defined with congestion relief potential would be developed, screened, and evaluated for any NEPA study underway in the region. The MARC CMS Policy adopted the following language on the integration of major investment studies to the metropolitan planning process:

The CMS Toolbox provides alternative congestion management strategies for consideration in MIS and Corridor Studies. When traffic congestion is referenced in the Purpose and Need Statement for an MIS, the MIS shall consider the congestion management strategies included in the MARC CMS Toolbox as a starting point for the development of alternative strategies. This does not preclude the MIS from considering other strategies that may not be in the CMS Toolbox, nor does it require that the MIS select a strategy from the CMS Toolbox be the preferred alternative, however, the MIS document must include a discussion of how the CMS Toolbox strategies were addressed.

Currently, there is no NEPA requirement that the CMS be incorporated into the NEPA process. Furthermore, MARC’s policy that NEPA studies incorporate the CMS Toolbox is not codified in any agreements with implementing agencies, but instead is implemented on a voluntary and cooperative basis. However, MARC and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) have worked closely in a number of instances to incorporate CMS Toolbox strategies into relevant projects.

A major benefit is that by coordinating planning and NEPA through the CMP, duplication or redoing the planning work in the NEPA process is avoided. This helps to “streamline” the NEPA process. Since adoption of the Policy, MARC has not been challenged about any projects in the TIP. MARC feels the region is accomplishing the goals that Congress had set for CMS when it was established, since transportation is being approached from a multimodal perspective. Overall, MARC feels that the partnerships among state, Federal, and regional government agencies are working well, with MARC staff continually involved in a significant number of projects. For more information on MARC’s work go to:


The Congestion Management Process is one of many elements feeding into the metropolitan transportation planning process. Along with requirements for coordination with state and local officials, consultation with Federal and tribal agencies, and consistency with the regional or statewide ITS Architecture, the CMP provides a mechanism for addressing regional, corridor-wide, and spot congestion issues in a comprehensive fashion. At the same time, the CMP works with the eight planning factors that should be considered in preparing long range plans – and especially with promoting efficient and effective transportation system management and operations.

The CMP is not intended to replace any of the existing elements of the planning process, but instead to complement and efficiently organize existing methods and techniques, focusing on management and operations strategies as potential means for mitigating or offsetting existing and future congestion. By emphasizing system performance measures, and on the data needs derived from such measures, the CMP helps system planners to identify ways to maximize the use of existing capacity, and to extend the usefulness of proposed improvements by enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness.


Most metropolitan areas face challenges in transportation planning for freight interests. Dramatically increasing freight flows in the metropolitan areas have contributed to increased congestion in the transportation system, imposing costs on shippers, consumers, and the environment. Using the congestion management process tools, processes, and data to support these tools and processes assist in addressing freight planning to address freight movement.

The United States Department of Transportation has developed a “Framework for a National Freight Policy” ( (accessed 03/29/07)). This framework contains a vision of freight transportation systems that will ensure the efficient, reliable, safe and secure movement of goods and support the nation’s economic growth while improving environmental quality. The “Framework” offers potential strategies that can be considered when assessing goods movement through the congestion management process.

The CMP can assist in addressing freight-specific congestion, and that congestion impacting freight movement, by incorporating specific freight-related strategies and by including freight in the development of an objectives-driven, performance based approach to resolving congestion issues. Freight-specific strategies might include truck-only lanes; infrastructure improvements to remove freight bottlenecks; and designated truck routes.


Incorporating safety as a regional priority, and establishing specific safety-related performance objectives, is an important first step toward having safety considerations included in the metropolitan transportation planning process. When safety objectives are included in the MTP, this drives the development of safety-related performance measures in the CMP. An emphasis on safety becomes integral to the collection of crash and injury data, which further supports the analysis of safety during the planning process. As local jurisdictions develop and maintain crash information databases and conduct independent safety analyses, such data can further support the identification of locations and types of safety improvements that are needed.

Involving local public safety officials as CMP stakeholders is key to identifying safety concerns and can provide useful input on key transportation safety issues. Planners can work with traffic, engineering, and public works staff to develop safety-related objectives in the CMP. These measures allow safety countermeasures to be incorporated into highway rehabilitation or improvement projects. Stand-alone projects to address critical safety issues also can be incorporated into the planning process.

4.6.3 LAND USE

The planning and management of urban land use greatly impacts transportation demand on the surface transportation system. Land use decisions are generally made at the local level, so considerations with respect to jurisdictional control should be kept in mind when advancing land use strategies. Including operational objectives dealing with land use in the metropolitan transportation plan highlights the importance of transportation investment for land development, regional demographic growth, and economic development. Land development strategies have been used in some areas to manage transportation demand on the system, and to help agencies meet air quality conformity standards. Such land use strategies can include limits on the amount and location of development until certain service standards are met, or policies that encourage development patterns better served by public transportation and nonmotorized modes. Examples of land use strategies include transit-oriented development, densification and infill strategies, and encouragement of mixed-use development.


Incorporating non-motorized transportation modes into the objectives of a regional transportation program adds an additional dimension in alleviating traffic congestion. Non-motorized modes of transportation, such as biking and walking, are sometimes overlooked by transportation professionals. Investments in these modes can increase safety and mobility in a cost-efficient manner, while providing a zero-emission alternative to motorized modes. Strategies focused on non-motorized modes can be implemented with relatively little cost, but tend to have local rather than systemwide impacts. The effectiveness of an investment in non-motorized travel depends heavily on coordination with local land use policies and connections with other modes, such as transit, for longer distance travel. Safety and aesthetics should also be emphasized in the design of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in order to increase their attractiveness. Representative strategies include sidewalks and bike lanes for local streets; improved bicycle facilities at transit stations and other destination locations; design guidelines for pedestrian-oriented development; improved safety and security for existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities; and exclusive non-motorized rights-of-way (i.e., rails-to-trails strategies).


Public transportation is an integral component of a region’s transportation program, and transit operators join MPOs and State DOTs in making up the three the key planning and decision-making partners in metropolitan and statewide planning processes. Transit systems and services play important parts in measuring, responding, and managing both recurring and non-recurring congestion. However, because congestion typically is regarded only as “highway” congestion, the many roles and influential aspects of public transit are sometimes overlooked by transportation professionals in planning for congestion management.

Transit addresses congestion in a number of ways, over both the near and longer-term timeframes. First, transit services, if time and cost competitive to driving, offer alternatives to single occupant vehicle usage. As such, transit can affects congestion as a vehicle-reduction strategy. But, transit operations themselves are vulnerable to congestion, with deteriorated travel times on buses limiting transit’s ability to attract new riders. Over a longer-term, transit service, fixed route or guideway in particular, can be a catalyst for smart growth and transit-supportive land development/redevelopment. These development patterns, in turn, can provide a sustainable longer-term strategy for congestion management by strengthening the market for transit, as well as by shortening the lengths of trips that continue to be by auto.
Finally, transit operations may have significant impacts – positive and negative - on corridor congestion. Transit pull-outs can significantly improve traffic flow by freeing capacity in curb lanes. Similarly, effective schedule adherence can ease rider connections and transfers, thereby improving transit system performance and attracting new riders.

These considerations and many others illustrate the importance of involving transit operators in CMP development and implementation – as “customers” of congestion management, beneficiaries of improved system performance, and as an effective congestion management strategy group.

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