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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-064
Date: November 2011

 

Guide on The Consistent Application of Traffic Analysis Tools and Methods

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FOREWORD

The Federal Highway Administration, in support of the Traffic Analysis and Simulation Pooled Fund Study, initiated this study to identify and address consistency in the selection and use of traffic analysis tools. This document offers recommendations on the management, planning, and conduct of traffic analysis that will promote greater traffic analysis tool consistency over the typical project development life cycle. The key to managing consistency of traffic analyses throughout the various stages of project development is the use of a master plan, which is called the project delivery analysis plan (PDAP) for the purposes of this document. The PDAP describes the project, its purpose, and the objectives of the traffic analysis. It identifies the measures of effectiveness that will be used to evaluate the project and its alternatives, describes the traffic analysis approach (including tools, assumptions, and parameters), identifies risks and contingency plans for dealing with those risks, determines the resource requirements, and lays out the time schedule for the analysis. This guidebook is directed toward professionals operating in State departments of transportation and other agencies responsible for transportation project development and delivery.

Joseph I. Peters, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Operations
Research and Development

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

 

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

FHWA-HRT-11-064

2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Guide on the Consistent Application of Traffic Analysis Tools and Methods

5. Report Date

November 2011

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

 

8. Performing Organization Report No.

 

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Dowling Associates, Inc.
180 Grand Avenue, Suite 250
Oakland, CA 94612

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-06-D-00004

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Operations
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report
March 2009 to April 2011

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

 

15. Supplementary Notes

The contracting officer's technical manager (COTM) was Randall VanGorder, HRTO-20, Office of Operations Research and Development

16. Abstract

The Federal Highway Administration, in support of the Traffic Analysis and Simulation Pooled Fund Study, initiated this study to identify and address consistency in the selection and use of traffic analysis tools. This report offers recommendations on the management, planning, and conduct of traffic analysis that will promote greater traffic analysis tool consistency over the typical project development life cycle. It is directed toward professionals operating in State departments of transportation and other agencies responsible for transportation project development and delivery.

17. Key Words

Traffic analysis, simulation, modeling, tool consistency

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classification
(of this page)

Unclassified

21. No. of Pages

86

22. Price

N/A

Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

*SI is the symbol for the International System of Units. Appropriate rounding should be made to comply with Section 4 of ASTM E380.
(Revised March 2003)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES

LIST OF TABLES

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in support of the Traffic Analysis and Simulation Pooled Fund Study (PFS), initiated this study to identify and address consistency in the selection and use of traffic analysis tools. This document offers recommendations on the management, planning, and conduct of traffic analysis that will promote greater traffic analysis tool consistency over the typical project development life cycle. It is directed toward professionals operating in State departments of transportation and other agencies responsible for transportation project development and delivery.

The purpose of this guidebook is to provide technical advice on the selection and use of traffic analysis tools and methods in a manner that promotes consistency over the course of the project development life cycle. Terminology and processes contained in this guidebook are a composite of the experiences of and approaches used by transportation agencies across the country for instructive and consistency purposes. When using this guidance, individual agencies will need to consider how their own terminology, processes, and procedures correspond to those contained in this document.

ANALYSIS TOOLS AND THE PROJECT DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE

A transportation improvement project typically goes through the following stages of development:

  1. Project need identification.
  2. Project initiation.
  3. Project clearance.
  4. Plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E).
  5. Construction.
  6. Operation.

In the early stages of project development, relatively little has been defined about the project. Consequently, the analysis has to be relatively broad and comprehensive, with the focus of the analysis increasing as the project and its alternatives are defined in the later stages.

The following categories of traffic analysis tools are available for evaluating a transportation improvement project:(1)

Figure 1 shows the optimal application ranges for each of the traffic analysis tool types. A wide vertical band indicates that the project development stage falls within the range of application for which the tool is best suited. A thin vertical band indicates that the tool can be used for that stage of project development but is less well-suited for that application.

Chart shows the optimal and feasible ranges of application for each tool type by project development stage. Sketch planning tools are optimal in the project need stage and feasible in the project initiation stage. Travel demand models are optimal in the project need and project initiation stages and feasible in the project clearance stage. Deterministic tools are optimal in the project clearance; plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E); and constructions stages and feasible in the project initiation and operation stages. Optimization tools are optimal in the operation stage and feasible in the project clearance, PS&E, and construction stages. Simulation analysis models are optimal in the project clearance and feasible in the PS&E, construction, and operation stages.

Figure 1. Chart. Traffic analysis tool application ranges in project development.

MANAGING CONSISTENCY THROUGHOUT PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

The key to managing consistency of the traffic analyses throughout the various stages of project development is having a master plan for the analysis that is scaled to the needs of each stage of the process. This plan is the project delivery analysis plan (PDAP) described in chapter 3.

The PDAP is a scalable master scope that describes the project, its purpose, and the objectives of the traffic analysis. It identifies the measures of effectiveness (MOEs) that will be used to evaluate the project and its alternatives. It also describes the traffic analysis approach (including tools, assumptions, and parameters) and identifies risks and contingency plans for dealing with those risks. It determines the resource requirements and lays out the time schedule for the analysis.

The remaining chapters give advice on the contents of the PDAP, as follows:

 

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