Intelligent Transportation Systems Policy
America’s transportation system is facing a number of unique challenges that need to be addressed in the next surface transportation authorization bill. We are in the midst of extraordinary pressure to identify new methods of financing our transportation system and reducing traffic fatalities, while at the same time finding innovative solutions to combat congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Solving these challenges will require transportation agencies and private sector partners to use all of the tools at their disposal, including multimodal operational strategies, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and a new customer-focused culture within our public agencies to help prevent crashes before they happen, reduce traffic congestion and freight bottlenecks, provide more effective incident and emergency response, reduce energy use and emissions, and enable innovative 21st century financing options.
Policy Position on Operations & Management Program
To assist state and local agencies in achieving greater transportation system performance , ARTBA believes the next authorization bill should provide dedicated funding and incentives for public agencies and private sector partners to deploy smart technologies and invest in operational improvements that will prevent traffic crashes and fatalities, reduce gridlock, preserve the environment, and create a smarter, more efficient multimodal transportation network. To that end, ARTBA supports the $3 billion per year Operations and Management program requested by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
This new program would provide funding for investments to improve system performance by enhancing operations. Examples of eligible activities include: real time system management, traveler information, emergency response, improving travel reliability, reducing traffic delays by using managed lanes, reversible lanes and dynamic lanes, implementing roadway operating condition technologies, signal timing and synchronization, intersection and street improvements, snow and ice monitoring and management technology, incident management, commercial vehicle operations, work zone safety and mobility strategies that include lane reconfiguration with positive protection, demand management, and access management. States should be encouraged to program funds for low-cost, rapid deployment projects designed to reduce delay and improve reliability.
In crafting the language that defines the Operations and Management program, Congress should include the following recommendations:
- States should be encouraged to program Operations and Management funds for low-cost, rapid deployment projects designed to reduce delay and improve reliability. These projects would have accelerated environmental review.
- Operations and Management funds should be used to connect and integrate operations centers along connected corridors and to support management of emergency response functions as part of operation center responsibilities.
- Eliminate any time restrictions on use of title 23 federal highway funds for operations & maintenance costs.
- Provide increased flexibility to use road pricing as a congestion management strategy.
Congestion can be “recurring” or “non-recurring.” Recurring congestion exists primarily as a result of capacity constraints on the existing system, which is what we often see on a daily basis in locations where demand exceeds capacity (e.g., rush hour). Non-recurring congestion typically occurs as the result of traffic crashes, special events, and/or inclement weather. It is not necessarily a daily occurrence, but often occurs relatively frequently – e.g., on a high-volume road with many traffic incidents. Non-recurring congestion makes up roughly half of all congestion.
Congestion is not an insurmountable problem. As documented in a recent report, NCHRP 20 24A, Task 3: Effective Strategies for Congestion Management, there are many effective strategies that can make a real difference. State and local governments are already doing many of these things – e.g., installation of ITS, geometric bottleneck improvements, introduction of managed lanes, etc. Many strategies can be implemented quickly and at relatively low cost, provided that there is funding available and institutional barriers can be overcome.
Funding for congestion relief comes from several of the core federal programs. There is no single “congestion relief” program, nor does there need to be. However, there is a need for a heightened focus on operational improvements and low cost capital investments that can help to avoid or relieve congestion. A new Operations Program would help to ensure targeted funding for operations, while retaining the flexibility to use funding from other programs for operations as well.
Not all roadways face congestion issues, and in fact many rural roadways instead face a far greater problem: safety. Examples include single vehicle run-off crashes, localized weather hazards, construction events, and unexpected non-recurring congestion resulting in secondary crashes (crashes in the back-up). The Operations and Management program eligibility includes solutions that are applicable to both congestion and safety problems, and therefore benefit both urban and rural environments.
Simply put, the focus on systems operations and management for non-recurring incidents, for safety, and emergency management in large and small urban and rural areas is essential to making more efficient use of the existing system and delivering the performance demanded by the travelling public and our economy.
Examples of systems operations and management
- Traffic Signalization and Control (new signal installation, signal re-timing, signal hardware upgrades, signal interconnection, and demand-responsive signal system)
- Intersection and Street Improvements (intersection/street widening, lane assignment changes, installation of turn lanes, bus loading bays)
- Bottleneck Removal (re-striping, installation of signage, addition of lanes, reduction of merging and weaving)
- Planned Special-Event Management (traffic management plans, signal timing plans, and dynamic lane assignments)
- Access Management (turn lanes, driveway closures)
- Traffic Management (traffic management centers; surveillance; variable message signs, ramp metering, network surveillance, surface street control; freeway, arterial and management; value pricing, electronic toll collection)
- Managed Lane strategies that include HOV, HOT, reversible lanes, dynamic lanes, moveable medians and special use lanes to provide congestion relief
- Commercial Vehicle Operation (electronic clearance, weigh-in-motion, HAZMAT management, truck-only lanes)
- Incident Response and Emergency Management (integrated incident management systems, emergency routing, roadway service patrols, disaster traveler information)
- Information Systems (traveler information systems, national 511 system, road weather information and management systems, variable message signs)
- Work Zone Management that include safety & mobility strategies that enables lane reconfiguration with positive protection to enhance safety
- Demand Management (flexible work hours/work weeks, telecommuting, car/vanpooling, land use policy, pedestrian and bicycling, restrictions on freight delivery times, managed lanes, road/area wide/corridor pricing)