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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Active Traffic Management (ATM) Implementation and Operations Guide


As discussed throughout this Guide, active traffic management (ATM) encompasses a broad array of nontraditional solutions that agencies can deploy to increase the efficiency of their transportation facilities. By moving from static approaches to more actively and dynamically managed traffic operations, which work to match fluctuating demand and varying conditions, agencies improve efficiency of their infrastructure. As transportation agencies grapple with growing congestion and fewer available funds to add capacity, temporary and permanent ATM strategies have been increasingly deployed in the United States within the last decade. This final chapter discusses the potential impact that connected and automated vehicles may have on the implementation and operation of ATM strategies, and how this Guide might be used by transportation agencies to advance ATM and benefit the traveling public.


Currently, ATM strategies rely on traditional detection and similar field-generated data to run the algorithms that determine when and where they need to be deployed to optimize performance. As the implementation of connected vehicles and automated vehicles increases within the transportation system, the data from connected and automated vehicles may have an impact on these strategies in terms of how, when, where, and which operational strategies are used in a region. Early research indicates that ATM can function within the connected vehicle (CV) environment and that the technology can enhance the delivery of ATM-related messages to travelers.

A demonstration project sponsored by FHWA in 2015 deployed the intelligent network flow optimization (INFLO) prototype system to demonstrate its functionality and performance in an operational traffic environment.(87) The intent was to demonstrate the ability to deliver queue warning (QW) and speed harmonization messages to drivers directly into the vehicle using both cellular communications and dedicated short-range communications. The results of the demonstration confirmed that the INFLO system could process data and accommodate the communications bandwidth to support ATM functionality in a CV environment. Furthermore, simulation research assessed the potential impacts of dynamic speed harmonization (i.e., dynamic speed limit [DSpL]) and QW.(88) Results of the research found that the INFLO prototype and its application to these ATM strategies had a positive impact on system operations, including the reduction in the magnitudes of shockwaves related to speed changes, which would benefit overall operations and safety.

With respect to the future of CVs and automated vehicles (AVs) and ATM strategies, transportation professionals will need to assess issues such as how the format and nature of data may impact algorithms, which data can be used to implement strategies, and which computing capabilities may be needed within transportation management centers (TMCs) to support online analysis and prediction capabilities for implementation. Agencies will also need to explore how they might interact directly with connected and automated vehicles, particularly with respect to influencing ATM strategy use and driver compliance, as well as methods for providing in-vehicle information regarding operational ATM strategies and how those methods impact TMC operations and infrastructure needs. These specific topics are beyond the scope of this guidebook, but agencies need to be aware that these issues are on the horizon.

Connected and automated vehicles may provide valuable data to be used in ATM system algorithms. Agencies will need to explore how they might interact with these vehicles to convey dynamic roadway information and influence driver behavior.


This Guide provides an overview of ATM strategies along with information related to their characteristics and when they might be appropriate to address regional goals and objectives. It describes the stepwise approach to accomplishing the implementation and operation of ATM strategies through the application of the systems engineering process; comprehensive planning; and organizational considerations, capabilities, and design considerations.

Agencies interested in implementing ATM in their region, as well as those that have implemented ATM and are interested in guidance on operating their ATM systems and strategies more effectively, can both benefit from this Guide. Agencies following the Guide can ensure that ATM projects deployed and operated in their jurisdictions help meet the regional goals and objectives related to safety and mobility. Additionally, they can incorporate ATM into their overall TSMO program to help optimize the performance of their system in a cost-effective and efficient manner. System users can benefit from ATM in numerous ways when strategies are properly implemented and operated by agencies. In general, travelers can expect such benefits as improved travel times, reduced travel delay, improved travel time reliability, reduced crashes and crash severity, and improved personal mobility and safety. Through communication, outreach, and efficient operations, agencies can ensure that travelers gain an understanding of the travel options available in a corridor and the potential ATM has for the entire region.

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