Programming for Operations: MPO Examples of Prioritizing and Funding Transportation Systems Management & Operations Strategies
MetroPlan Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
MetroPlan Orlando is the MPO for a three–county region in central Florida. Areas of active work on operations include highway system enhancements, tolls, parking management, ITS infrastructure, traffic signal optimization, intersection improvements, and traveler information systems. The MPO has 14 staff members, including a professional engineer (PE) and two other staff who work exclusively on TSMO.
MetroPlan Orlando has included a TSMO component in the Year 2030 LRTP, which was adopted in August 2009. TSMO projects are designed to get the greatest efficiency out of the existing transportation network. Other strategies include ITS techniques such as computerized traffic signals and advanced traveler information systems, as well as intersection improvements.
MetroPlan's 2030 LRTP includes multiple goals that support investment in TSMO. Goals are evaluated using performance measures like those shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Operations Performance Measures from MetroPlan METROPLAN 2030 LRTP.
During 1evelopment of the TIP, MetroPlan sets aside $4 million per year for non–capacity improvements, as directed by the LRTP. This creates a pool of funding that is committed to TSMO projects. TSMO projects are not identified in the LRTP; instead, projects are identified during the programming phase.
Projects to be funded using the set-aside are identified by a TSMO subcommittee composed of technical specialists from MetroPlan's member local governments, including traffic engineers, urban planners, and public works department heads. Once per year, the subcommittee meets to select projects, prioritize them, and set a schedule for implementation. The subcommittee ranks projects based on expected system impact, cost efficiency, coordination with the ITS System Architecture, Strategic Plan and geographic equity among MetroPlan's member local governments.
The $4 million TSMO set-aside is funded through the Surface Transportation Program Urban Allocation. This program delegates full project selection authority to large MPOs. MetroPlan Orlando is only concerned with the capital cost of operations projects. In general, life cycle costs are not a component of the TIP. Local governments operate and maintain the infrastructure. The TIP also includes funding for the Road Rangers program, which is a fleet of vehicles that help repair and clear disabled vehicles from the roadway, thus easing traffic delays.
The TIP shows operations projects that are not under the direct control of the MPO. MetroPlan's member local governments play an important role in system management and operations. Since local governments operate all roadways and traffic operations centers, they collect most of the data used in TSMO planning. Local governments share information and data with the MPO and each other. Local governments have come together under the MetroPlan umbrella to form a TSMO subcommittee.
The process of compiling each TIP begins with the development of the Prioritized Project List (PPL) the previous year. This document contains a list of unfunded highway, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian projects that have been prioritized for funding based on selection criteria described in the LRTP. The PPL is used by Florida DOT (FDOT) to develop its Five Year Work Program. In turn, the projects in the Five Year Work Program within the MetroPlan region become the TIP. The first four years of the FDOT Five Year Work Program become the Statewide TIP.
The PPL contains a list of TSMO projects, including projects related to incident management, transportation demand management, and other TSMO activities. In addition, FDOT has targeted about $30 million per year in State funds that are to be used for Project Development and Environment (PD&E) studies and design phases for new highway projects on the state road system in the MetroPlan Orlando area. These projects include traditional road widening projects, intersection improvements, and multimodal projects that utilize bicycle and pedestrian and transit facilities to improve traffic flow on constrained roadways without adding lanes.
METROPLAN has three full–time staff members who support the Systems Management and Operations Department. The Department includes a Director, a staff member that handles transportation demand management and land–use and a second staff position is in transition, but will focus on performance measurement, safety, security and data analysis. The second staff is a PE, which allows MetroPlan to become Local Agency Program (LAP) 38 certified to design and contract improvements in–house. LAP certification allows public agencies to perform design and construction activities normally reserved for the DOT. MetroPlan Orlando places a strong emphasis on improving bicycle and pedestrian safety through signal retiming, intersection redesign, and safety improvements.
Interlocal coordination is an important feature of the TSMO environment in Orlando; coordination efforts allow for TSMO staff at local governments to pool their expertise and resources. Local governments maintain all traffic signals and operate traffic management centers. Each jurisdiction has its own TMC, but a reciprocity agreement allows cameras outside one jurisdiction to be viewed by all others. Sometimes group requisitions are made. Another example of effective interlocal coordination is in signal retiming. MetroPlan includes funding for signal retiming work in the TIP, then FDOT manages the retiming project, and local governments maintain the pattern throughout the year. MetroPlan works with its member local governments to perform a before–and–after study for each retiming to check on progress and measure roadway performance.
MetroPlan uses a server–side software tool called Interactive TIP to make the projects in the TIP more accessible to the public. Users can search the TIP for projects based on project type, location, jurisdiction, dollar value, and keyword. Projects that fit the search criteria are returned as a report to the user. A map of the project is shown, along with project information, lead agency, phase, and funding source. This is a powerful tool for public information and public involvement. A screen capture of MetroPlan's Interactive TIP is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. MetroPlan's Interactive TIP.
For More Information
38 Information on Florida's LAP program can be obtained at: http://www.dot.state.fl.us/projectmanagementoffice/lap/. Return to note 38.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration