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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Synthesis of Active Traffic Management Experiences in Europe and the United States

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Report Purpose

This synthesis report describes both US and European techniques in Active Traffic Management (ATM).

The primary focus of this synthesis is on European experience, which in some cases dates back a number of years. This report provides a compilation of lessons learned, experiences, operational results, and benefits associated with active traffic management applications. The applications included for discussion are primarily those that include variable speed management (also called speed harmonization or lane control in Europe), shoulder or line management, junction control, and directional routing. The report concludes with a discussion of the potential benefits and challenges of a system-wide application of techniques to actively manage traffic and a listing of initial implementations of European strategies in the US.

1.2 2006 Scan Tour Summary

In June 2006, a group of eleven US transportation professionals representing planning, design, and operations visited five European nations to study how they were addressing freeway congestion using dynamic or actively managed traffic management techniques. The trip was sponsored by the International Technology Scanning Program, a partnership of AASHTO, FHWA, and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of TRB. The trip purpose was to examine congestion management programs, policies, and experiences from the perspectives of national, state, and local transportation agencies.

The scan team found that through the deployment of these specific traffic management techniques, agencies in Denmark, England, Germany, and The Netherlands exercise increased control over their roadway facilities and are able to better optimize their infrastructure investment to meet customer needs. Depending on the location and the combination of strategies deployed, specific benefits as a result of this congestion management approach include:

  • An increase in average throughput for congested periods of 3 to 7 percent;
  • An increase in overall capacity of 3 to 22 percent;
  • A decrease in primary incidents of 3 to 30 percent;
  • A decrease in secondary incidents of 40 to 50 percent;
  • An overall harmonization of speeds during congested periods;
  • Decreased headways and more uniform driver behavior;
  • An increase in trip reliability; and
  • The ability to delay the onset of freeway breakdown.

Nine key recommendations were identified by the scan team that would be applicable to congestion management in the United States. The following are the scan team’s primary recommendations (Mirshahi, et al., 2007):

  1. Promote active management to optimize existing infrastructure during recurrent and non-recurrent congestion.
  2. Emphasize customer orientation and focus on trip reliability.
  3. Integrate active management into infrastructure planning and programming processes.
  4. Make operations a priority in planning, programming, and funding processes.
  5. Develop tools to support active management investment decisions.
  6. Consider public-private partnerships and other innovative financing and delivery strategies.
  7. Provide consistent messages to roadway users.
  8. Consider pricing as only one component of a total management package.
  9. Include (ATM consideration) as part of the overall management of congested facilities.
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