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

Ramp Metering: A Proven, Cost-Effective Operational Strategy—A Primer



This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names may appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes for continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Ramp Metering: A Proven, Cost-Effective Operational Strategy—A Primer

5. Report Date

October 2014

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Arianne Mizuta, Kim Roberts, Les Jacobsen, Nick Thompson

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Parsons Brinckerhoff
999 Third Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98104

Under contract to Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-12-D-00048 T-13002

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

James Colyar, FHWA Government Task Manager

16. Abstract

This primer poses ramp metering as a potential tool to address commonly occurring congestion and safety issues. Despite initial opposition and skepticism from various stakeholders, ramp metering has been deployed, sustained, and even expanded in many regions. This primer incorporates recent research on challenges agencies experience during their attempts to deploy or expand ramp metering in their regions.

While geometric limitations of existing ramps are a common challenge, agency support and project costs also pose difficulties for several agencies. Recent case studies provide insights into how these common challenges could be addressed as well as lessons learned. This primer emphasizes organizational capability, public outreach, and geometric limitations as key considerations when deploying or expanding ramp metering.

17. Key Words

Ramp Metering, Ramp Management, Freeway Management, Active Traffic Management (ATM), Active Transportation and Demand Management (ATDM), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O)

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed pages authorized

Office of Operations