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Congestion Management Process Guidebook

Chapter 5 - Conclusion

The Congestion Management Process serves an essential purpose within the overall transportation planning and programming process by enabling decision-makers at MPOs, local governments, and state agencies to base their decisions on a clear analytical understanding of congestion in a region. The CMP is a critical element of an objectives-driven, performance-based planning approach, and the integration of the CMP data, objectives, and outcomes with the MTP and TIP allows these to become an integral part of project decision making. Consequently, the issues analyzed as part of the CMP should be reflective of the broad objectives of the MPO, including livability.

The CMP regulations and guidelines allow considerable flexibility in how individual MPOs can choose to implement their processes. This has allowed MPOs to tailor their CMPs in various ways to both reflect regional needs and priorities and acknowledge time and budget constraints. This guidebook outlines eight actions that are considered to be at the core of the CMP process. There are many different ways in which individual MPOs choose to implement these actions, and each MPO may not consider each action to be a discrete step in its process, but each action serves an important role and must be addressed in the CMP in some way. The eight actions are:

  1. Develop Regional Objectives for Congestion Management - What is the desired outcome? Objectives should be developed in coordination with the long-range plan, and should guide the decisions made throughout the CMP and the broader MPO planning process.
  2. Define CMP Network - What components of the transportation system are the focus? This step defines the geographic area to be covered by the CMP, as well as the transportation facilities that will be analyzed, including transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and freight facilities.
  3. Develop Multimodal Performance Measures - How do we define and measure congestion? The performance measures selected for use in the CMP should address the congestion management objectives identified above, addressing a wide variety of congestion-related issues.
  4. Collect Data/Monitor System Performance - How does the transportation system perform? Collecting data to assess system performance is typically the most resource-intensive element of the CMP process.
  5. Analyze Congestion Problems and Needs - What congestion problems are present in the region, or are anticipated? What are the sources of unacceptable congestion? Before congestion management strategies can be identified, it is necessary to analyze the collected data with regard to the performance measures and identify the congestion problems that are present in the region.
  6. Identify and Assess Strategies - What strategies are appropriate to mitigate congestion? A wide variety of strategies, including demand management, operational improvements, and multimodal facilities/services, should be examined and identified to address congestion.
  7. Program and Implement Strategies - How and when will solutions be implemented? CMP strategies are typically implemented through the MTP and TIP processes, and CMP performance measures are often used as a tool for project prioritization.
  8. Evaluate Strategy Effectiveness - What have we learned about implemented strategies? Evaluation allows the MPO to understand how well its CMP strategies are working, whether further improvements are needed, and whether the strategies should be implemented elsewhere in the region.

MPOs around the country have each developed unique methods of implementing the CMP. Some have integrated the CMP with the long-range planning process to the extent that the CMP is not identifiable as a standalone process. Some have aligned the CMP closely with the TIP, with CMP performance measures directly influencing project prioritization and funding. Some MPOs have developed CMP objectives and performance measures that are closely tied with issues of livability and quality of life, while others focus more on traditional congestion measures. Some MPOs develop extensive written documentation, while some others maintain online data and information resources. All of these processes, developed with individual needs and resources in mind, represent appropriate examples of CMP process development.

Updated: 07/25/2011
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