Because each roadway corridor has its own unique characteristics, including the design of the roadway, the amount of traffic it carries, and the travel patterns of the people who use it, congestion management efforts must be tailored to meet the needs of different locations.
Transportation engineers and planners employ a variety of techniques to effectively manage congestion. SPC’s CMP defines four major categories in its “congestion management toolbox”. These are:
- Demand Management
- Modal Options
- Operational Improvements, and
Demand Management programs attempt to address congestion at the root of the problem by reducing the number of vehicles on the road. These initiatives work to modify driver behavior by encouraging people to make fewer single-occupancy trips, travel in off-peak hours when possible, and support land use policies that reduce the demand for automobile transportation.
Modal Options include techiniques to give people transportation choices beyond just driving alone in their cars. These include initiatives to encourage carpooling, vanpooling, transit, bicycle and pedestrian modes of travel.
Operational Improvements are geared toward improving the “supply side” of the transportation system. These efforts are intended to enhance the operation of the transportation system and make it as efficient as possible. Operational Improvements include things such as intersection upgrades, access management, reversible lanes, traffic signal improvements, and Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Capacity projects can include new roadways and roadway widening for additional single-occupancy vehicle lanes (SOVCAP). Capacity improvements are typically the last measures transportation professionals consider, because they are often the most expensive and can have adverse community impacts, such as environmental and right-of-way impacts. Capacity projects can also have the effect of inducing additional travel, which may result in the roadway becoming congested again in the future.
Within these four major categories, the CMP includes twenty-five different strategies for addressing congestion. These strategies are described in more detail below.
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Demand Management Techniques
Employer-Based Programs – encouraging telecommuting, flexible or staggered work schedules, company-run carpool/vanpool programs, promotion of transit usage, and parking management at the job site
Parking Management – public policies or facilities that encourages multimodal travel and discourage SOV use through adjustments in the pricing and availability of parking; could include event-related parking management to address non-recurring congestion
Congestion Pricing – pricing of transportation services to encourage travel at non-peak hours including fares and tolls
Public Relations & Education for TDM – education and publicity that discourages single-occupancy vehicle travel during peak hours and provides information on alternate modes of travel and ways to minimize travel
Growth Management – public policies to manage the location and nature of development in a way that optimizes transportation efficiency
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policies – public policies that encourage concentrated development adjacent to transit stops or stations and easy access to these transit facilities
Public Relations & Education for Transportation-Supportive Development – educational programs for policy makers and the general public about the impact of development decisions on transportation systems in order to promote informed decision-making
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Improved Transit Service – new routes and/or expanded schedules, but not including new facilities
Rideshare Programs – programs to facilitate carpooling and vanpooling such as SPC’s CommuteInfo
Park-n-Ride & Other Intermodal Facilities – outlying parking lots that encourage transit use, carpooling and vanpooling or other facilities that facilitate transfer from one mode of travel to another
HOV & HOT lanes – facilities that are restricted for use by vehicles carrying a certain number of passengers during peak times of the day or that may be used by single-occupancy vehicles for payment of a toll
Pedestrian Facilities & Information – sidewalks, crosswalks, paths, pedestrian signals, pedestrian bridges, maps and signage to promote walking as a viable mode of transportation
Bicycle Facilities & Information – bike lanes, paths, signals, lockers, maps and signage to promote bicycling as a viable mode of transportation
Transit Capital Improvements – new transit facilities such as busways, dedicated bus lanes, bus pull-offs, light-rail lines, and light-rail stations to increase transit accessibility and usage
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Traffic Signal Improvements – signal hardware upgrades, signal software upgrades, signal timing, signal coordination, or (in conjunction with intersection improvements) channelization of turning movements
Intersection / Geometric Improvements – addition or reconfiguration of turning lanes, lane widenings, realignment of intersecting streets, improved acceleration or deceleration lanes at interchange ramps, construction of roundabouts, new and/or improved traffic control devices (signs and markings).
Elimination of Bottlenecks – removal of a physical constriction which delays travel, such as widening an underpass, providing lane continuity (i.e. replacing a two-lane bridge that connects pieces of four-lane roadway), or eliminating a sight barrier
One-way Streets – establishing, or removing, pairs of one-way streets in place of a standard two-way street; this could include modifying the one-way or two-way nature of side streets in order to impact traffic patterns on a mainline corridor
Reversible Lanes – establishing signals, signage, and pavement markings which permit the direction of travel to be changed during peak travel hours
Ramp Management – includes strategies such as ramp metering (installing signals at points where ramps enter a freeway, which regulates the rate and spacing of traffic entering the freeway based on actual conditions), ramp widening, ramp closures, and signing and pavement marking changes
Incident Management Systems – technology and programs for detecting crashes, disabled vehicles, or other incidents that impede travel and resolving or removing the obstructions
Access Management – policies, design criteria, and facilities that minimize the number of driveways and intersecting roads accessing a main thoroughfare; includes parallel service roads, shared driveways, median barriers, and curb cut limitations
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) – the use of technology to improve traffic flow
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Lane Additions – new travel lanes on an existing roadway designed to increase the capacity of the facility; does not including turning lanes, acceleration/deceleration lanes, climbing lanes, or specialized lanes for use by modes other than single-occupancy vehicles
New SOV Facilities – new roadways, interchanges, or ramps that increase single-occupancy vehicle lane-mileage on the transportation network
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Where do I see how this Congestion Management Toolbox is used in the SPC region? Check out the Evaluating Congestion Mitigation Strategies section of this website.
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For more information about our Congestion Management program, contact Doug Smith at (412) 391-5590 x327 or e-mail email@example.com.
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