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U.S. Department of Transportation

Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: An Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach – A Guidebook

5.0 Resulting Plans, Programs, and Projects

Diagram of the flow chart depicting the objectives-driven, performance-based approach to planning for operations. Step 4, 'Metropolitan transportation plan,' and step 5 'Transportation improvement program and other programs' are called out, indicating that this chapter will focus on these topics.

5.1 The Resulting Metropolitan Transportation Plan and TIP

A plan resulting from the objectives-driven, performance- based approach for operations should include the following (See Figure 5):

MTPs should discuss M&O strategies that are funded by State, regional, and local transportation agencies, even without Federal funding involved. Since many M&O strategies (e.g., incident clearance, emergency response) are planned and executed by these types of agencies, this discussion would provide a more holistic picture of the M&O strategies being employed within a region, which will provide a clearer picture of the entire transportation system and its performance.

Figure 5: A Metropolitan Transportation Plan Resulting from the Approach Includes Goals, Operations Objectives, Performance Measures, and M&O Strategies
Diagram summarizing how using an objectives-driven approach can be used to develop a transportation management plan.

These strategies should then move forward to programming and implementation in collaboration with operating agencies. Many of the M&O strategies will flow from the MTP to be programmed in the TIP. M&O projects may be eligible for several funding sources: State funds, local funds, STP, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), and others. Examples of more innovative funding sources for M&O strategies across the U.S. include:

The MTP is a product of coordination among local jurisdictions, stakeholder agencies, and the public. The resulting plan can take on one of many different formats and organizations while still adhering to Federal requirements, but correspondingly, applying an objectives-driven, performance-based approach to integrate operations in the MTP can result in an MTP being structured in a variety of ways. A couple of alternatives to consider include the following:

Homeland Security Funding Supports M&O in Baltimore Region:

Transportation management and operations is an integral part of many regional goal areas such as homeland security, environment, safety, and livability. In the Baltimore, Maryland region, the MPO – the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) – has worked to advance emergency preparedness and related transportation operations activities. Since September 11, 2001, the BRTB's committees have expanded their collaboration with emergency responders to all hazards including acts of terrorism. One of the BRTB's committees, the Transportation & Public Works (T&PW) Subcommittee, also reports to the Urban Area Homeland Security Work Group (UAWG). The UAWG, which is a stand-alone regional committee, allocates the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funds to the region.

The T&PW Subcommittee requested and received UASI funds from the UAWG for several projects that support planning for transportation management and operations during emergencies. One project involves the development of an evacuation model that will provide emergency responders with recommended evacuation zones and routes given the location of the incident, recommended signal timing and turning movement restrictions, and estimated evacuation clearance times. While designed for emergencies, this model can also be used to support transportation management during other types of events. UASI funds have also been used to develop a decision-support tool for identifying routes that would be most appropriate for contraflow operations and would warrant further study and analysis. Also, the T&PW Subcommittee used UASI funds as well as transportation funds to conduct a transportation-focused evacuation tabletop exercise in the spring of 2010.


Pima Association of Governments' Use of Operations Objectives Led to M&O Projects in the TIP:

The Pima Association of Governments (PAG) led a group of operations participants in identifying specific objectives and performance measures for arterial management, traveler information, and work zone management to develop a regional concept for transportation operations. These objectives guided Tucson's selection of management and operations strategies and the approaches for implementation. The regional concept for transportation operations (RCTO) group identified specific operations projects and programs such as a regional traffic signal program to be included in the PAG TIP and funded through a half-cent transportation sales tax, which passed in 2006.


Examples of Plans Incorporating Elements of the Approach

The Regional Transportation Plan (the Plan) developed by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is organized by mode of travel and contains goals, measurable objectives, performance measures, and transportation improvement strategies across several plan areas including congestion, condition, safety, and air quality.24 There are six overall goals that guide the Plan's implementation. The goal with the strongest element of operations is "Manage the transportation system to provide an optimum level of mobility for the greatest number of persons while insuring mobility for the transportation disadvantaged." The goals, objectives, policies and performance measures also are discussed with each mode, while M&O strategies are discussed primarily in the chapter titled "Transportation Management/Intelligent Transportation Systems Element."

Examples of operations objectives included in the Plan are:

M&O strategies highlighted in the plan include a collaborative transportation management center, ramp metering, traffic signal coordination, and real-time bus information. The FY 2009-2013 Regional Transportation Improvement Program for the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County contains approximately $35.7 million for transportation systems management and transportation demand management projects including a freeway service patrol, a traffic management center, a trip reduction program, ongoing signal coordination improvements, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.25

The Plan notes that during the RTP update process, the progress toward the objectives will be reviewed and objectives and activities will be updated as necessary.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments' 2035 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan has several focus areas, such as freight, security, and safety, including one that is dedicated to system management and operational improvements.26 The overall objective of this focal area is "to provide more reliable travel times and reduce the amount of delay faced by drivers, passengers, and trucks on the roadway and transit system." Strategies identified in the plan include providing queue jump lanes for transit, disseminating real-time information to travelers on travel time/speeds on VMS and websites, and coordinating traffic signal timing plans across jurisdictions. More importantly, "management, operational, and air quality improvements" is a major system category with designated funds in DRCOG's plan.

5.2 Benefits of the Resulting Plan and TIP

The regional transportation system may not only see direct benefits through improved system performance, but broader benefits may be realized through a transportation planning process that is objectives-driven and performance-based. Specifically, MPOs and operating agencies may expect benefits such as:

23 Information on funding for operations can be found in Show Me the Money: A Decision-Maker's Funding Compendium for Transportation Systems Management and Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Operations Coalition, FHWA-HOP-06-003, December 2005. Available at:, last accessed December 6, 2009.

24 Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. Available at:, last accessed March 1, 2010.

25 Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, FY 2009-2013 Regional Transportation Improvement Program, Available at:, last accessed March 1, 2010

26 Denver Regional Council of Governments, 2035 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan. Available at:, last accessed December 6, 2009.

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