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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Traffic Management Capability Maturity Framework


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The concept of a capability maturity framework (CMF) emerged from the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) L01 and L06 projects that promoted a process-driven approach to improve Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O).

Adapted from the software development world, the notion of CMF rests on the following three tenets:

  • Process matters: Projects fail or do not achieve desired functionality for a variety of reasons not related to the technology.
  • Prioritizing the right action is important: Is an agency ready, how do they know, and what should they do next?
  • Focus on the weakest link: What is holding the agency back in becoming a leader in a particular area?

Building on SHRP2 results, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) continued development of this concept and a capability maturity concept was published as part of the TSM&O guidance. SHRP2 implementation activities have successfully used the overall framework to work with State DOTs to develop action plans to improve their TSM&O capabilities.

To continue the emphasis on capability maturity and to provide program-level guidance, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed additional frameworks that focus on improvement actions for specific TSM&O program areas including:

  • Traffic Management
  • Traffic Incident Management
  • Road Weather Management
  • Planned Special Events
  • Work Zone Management
  • Traffic Signal Management

These frameworks are designed for agencies and regions to assess the current strengths and weaknesses and develop a targeted action plan for the program area. More details can be found on the FHWA Operations web site:

Table 1. Capability Maturity Framework Process Overview

Table 1 shows an overview table of the Capability Maturity Framework (CMF), which is based on the Information Technology-developed Capability Maturity Matrix concept. The table shows in the first column the six Dimensions or Process Areas that are to be addressed within the CMF, which include the Business Process, Systems and Technology, Performance Measurements, Workforce, Culture, and Collaboration. The second column provides explanations for each of these Dimensions/Process Areas. The header row contains four different levels at which each process area might be evaluated by the government agency performing the self-evaluation. Level 1 is ad-hoc or low level of capacity, Level 2 is managed or a medium level of capacity, Level 3 is integrated or high level of capacity, and Level 4 is optimized or highest level of capability. Shown are also 3 call-out boxes describing three steps that must be performed during the evaluation: Step 1 is the Self-Assessment, which is described as 'work with your stakeholders to assess where you are in terms of the capabilities in each process area (or dimension). Step 2 instructs the viewer to identify areas of improvement and the desired levels of capability to improve program effectiveness, and Step 3 instructs the viewer to identify actions that you need to take to move to the desired levels of capability.

The Traffic Management Capability Maturity Framework

This framework is intended for agencies or regions to assess current capabilities with respect to traffic management. The framework looks at the agency's ability to monitor, manage, and control traffic and the agency's ability to coordinate traffic information.

Broadly, the framework assesses the capability to efficiently manage the movement of traffic on streets and highways and includes corridor management approaches. The capability levels and the actions are focused and defined from a traffic manager's perspective. The actions may require other agencies to be the responsible party, which is intended to foster multi-agency collaboration and dialogue about traffic management at the regional level.

The use of the framework is recommended for agencies considering Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) or Active Transportation and Demand Management (ATDM) applications or if there are changes being planned for existing Traffic Management Center operations.

A multi-stakeholder approach is recommended to review the framework and identify improvement actions. Typical stakeholders include city and state traffic managers in the region, selection of traffic operators, transportation planners, law enforcement representatives and transit operators.


Consistent with the SHRP2 guidance, the frameworks are all described as a matrix defining the process improvement areas and levels (from Level 1, low-level to Level 4, optimized high-level) of capability. Following a self-assessment process, specific actions are identified to increase capabilities across the desired process areas. Capabilities are described for the following 6 areas:

  1. Business processes
  2. Systems and technology
  3. Performance measurement
  4. Organization and workforce
  5. Culture
  6. Collaboration

Using the Framework

A Traffic Management CMF and a supporting interactive tool have been developed. The current version of the framework is available at

A collaborative process is recommended for using the traffic management capability maturity framework. Typically, a local agency champion will pull together the stakeholders for traffic management in the area for a day-long workshop to walk through the framework.

In using the framework the stakeholders first determine their capability level using the self-assessment. Then, through use of the web-based tools, stakeholders identify, filter, and compile a set of actions appropriate to the region or agency. The outcomes of using the framework are consensus around the current capabilities across all the dimensions and an initial list of prioritized actions tailored to the region or agency.

The champion might then convene future meetings or identify existing forums where the identified actions will be championed and implemented.

The framework is not intended as a benchmarking tool but rather as a resource for agencies to identify appropriate actions for improving management and operations of traffic management systems. So while periodic assessments are not required, revisiting the tool when significant organizational change occurs or prior to major investments in the area is recommended.

Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the online tool specific to the Traffic Management program area. Traffic Signal Systems, Traffic Incident Management, Road Weather Management, Planned Special Event Management, and Work Zone Management.
Figure 1. Screenshot of Tool

Get involved:

If interested in using the framework, or hosting a CMF workshop for your agency or region, please contact: Operations Feedback at


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