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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Incorporating Travel-Time Reliability into the Congestion Management Process (CMP): A Primer

Chapter 5. Summary

Congestion management is the application of strategies to improve transportation system performance and reliability by reducing the adverse impacts of congestion on the movement of people and goods. System reliability is an important objective of congestion management that utilizes transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O) strategies. The application of TSM&O strategies has taken on greater significance over the years due to constraints on the nation's transportation system expansion. Many regions are experiencing more delay due to unplanned disruptions than delay due to peak demand, much to the dismay of the traveling public and freight shippers.

Up until recently, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and states that wanted to address travel-time reliability had few options for doing so. Data collection was expensive and analysis tools were primitive or unavailable. However, advances in probe data and system detection technologies and new analysis tools developed under the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) have significantly reduced data collection and analysis costs for reliability analyses.

The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is one of the most-effective ways to improve transportation system reliability. Congestion management programs are updated frequently and they focus on monitoring conditions and developing strategies for alleviating congestion. A robust plan that addresses congestion in all of its forms, whether recurring or non-recurring, results in better system-wide reliability on the transportation network.

As of this writing, current Federal transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), identifies a system-reliability goal for improving the efficiency of the national surface transportation system. CMPs that incorporate reliability provide a pathway to developing the performance-based planning and programming elements that help address legislative needs.

Materials developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), such as this primer and a series of training workshops, will help states and MPOs create more robust CMPs that result in improvements for travelers and freight shippers. Incorporating reliability goals, objectives, and performance measures into CMPs would respond to the concerns of local constituents, result in cost-effective strategies for alleviating congestion, and would assist the nation in meeting its goal of cost-effectively securing a more-reliable transportation system.


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