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Statewide Opportunities for Integrating Operations, Safety and Multimodal Planning: A Reference Manual

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Section 1 Introduction
    1. 1.1 Purpose
    2. 1.2 Why Integrate Operations, Safety, and Multimodal Planning?
    3. 1.3 Getting Started-How to Use This Reference Manual
  3. Section 2 Creating an Environment for Integrating Operations, Safety, and Multimodal Planning
    1. 2.1 Develop Multidisciplinary Teams/Initiatives
    2. 2.2 Use an Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach
    3. 2.3 Use A Strategic Business Plan To Focus on Integration of Operations, Safety, and Planning
    4. 2.4 Foster Multimodal Coordination
    5. 2.5 Self-Assessment Checklist: Creating an Environment for Integration
  4. Section 3 Statewide-Level Opportunities
    1. 3.1 Develop Statewide Operations & Safety Goals and Objectives
    2. 3.2 Develop Performance Measures and Targets in the SLRTP
    3. 3.3 Collect Data and Monitor System Performance
    4. 3.4 Develop Strategies and Programs to Support Established Goals and Objectives
    5. 3.5 Take Full Advantage of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP)
    6. 3.6 Develop Operations or Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Plans
    7. 3.7 Incorporate Operations and Safety into Multimodal Plans and Other Related Plans
    8. 3.8 Link Statewide Planning Efforts with Programming
    9. 3.9 Self-Assessment Checklist: Statewide Opportunities
  5. Section 4 Regional-Level Opportunities
    1. 4.1 Develop Regional Initiatives and Programs
    2. 4.2 Support Data Sharing and Analysis Tools for Use by MPOs
    3. 4.3 Support Integration for Federal Lands, Native American Tribes, and Rural Areas
    4. 4.4 Self-Assessment Checklist: Regional Opportunities
  6. Section 5 Corridor and Sub-Area Level Opportunities
    1. 5.1 Utilize Operations/Safety Data and Tools with Corridor Studies
    2. 5.2 Develop Operations and Safety Strategies within Corridor Plans
    3. 5.3 Develop Corridor System Management Plans
    4. 5.4 Self-Assessment Checklist: Corridor and Sub-Area Opportunities
  7. Section 6 Project-Level Opportunities
    1. 6.1 Incorporate Operations and Safety into Project Planning
    2. 6.2 Incorporate Operations- and Safety-Related Traffic Management/Transportation Demand Management Strategies during Project Construction
    3. 6.3 Self Assessment Checklist: Project Opportunities
  8. Appendix A: Relevant Plans for Identifying Opportunities for Integration
  9. Appendix B: Agency Self-Assessment Checklist

Executive Summary

State departments of transportation (DOTs) face a wide range of challenges in their missions to provide safe and efficient transportation systems. In the United States, roadway fatalities and serious injuries-to vehicle occupants, bicyclists, and pedestrians-continue to be unacceptably high. Traffic congestion continues to challenge our Nation"s transportation system, resulting in billions of gallons of wasted fuel, hours of wasted time, and costs to the economy. Affordable and safe options for transit, bicycling, and walking are still limited in many communities, and the public wants transportation to support more livable, economically vibrant, and sustainable communities. While the needs for transportation investments to support all these goals are substantial, the reality is that funding for needed improvements is limited. Consequently, State DOTs are increasingly seeking innovative ways to get the most out of their investments.

Benefits of Operations and Safety Strategies

  • Traffic signal optimization can decrease delay substantially (13-94%) while improving safety (by reducing speeding and red-light running), at a fraction of the cost of infrastructure capacity expansion. The Texas DOT's Traffic Light Synchronization Program reduced delay by 25%, resulting in a benefit-to-cost ratio of 62:1.
  • Roundabouts are a strategy that can be used at unsignalized intersections that are experiencing high rates of right-angle, rear-end, and turning crashes. They can decrease fatalities at an intersection by 90%, reduce injuries by 76%, and reduce all crashes by 35%. They also help to improve traffic flow.
  • Traffic incident management can decrease incident duration by 30-40%. Combined traveler information and incident management systems can increase peak period freeway speeds by 8-13%, reduce crash rates, and improve trip time reliability by 1-22%.
  • Road weather information systems can reduce traveler delay and lower crash rates by 7-83%.
  • Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) can yield substantial savings in travel time. A 10-30% participation rate in electronic toll collection yielded benefit-to-cost ratios from 2:1 to 3:1.
  • Managed lanes provide an option for more reliable travel and can significantly improve transit service speeds. Express lanes on I-95 in Miami resulted in express bus route travel times falling from 25 to 8 minutes on a 7.5-mile section, and a 30% increase in route ridership.
  • Transit signal priority (TSP) can yield a 2-18% saving in transit running time, and can reduce the number of buses needed in service.

Sources: USDOT, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, Investment Opportunities for Managing Transportation Performance through Technology. January 2009.
FTA, Miami Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) Project: Phase 1A -Transit Evaluation Report, November 2009. Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioners Guide, 2007.

Although all parts of the DOT organization work in support of the agency mission and goals, the areas of planning, operations, and safety have all too often functioned separately, and the perspective of those who work in these areas can be quite different largely due to their day-to-day responsibilities. Multimodal planning must consider not only the existing needs of the system but also long-term forecasted needs for infrastructure investments. In contrast, system operation focuses primarily on the short-term response to system needs utilizing technology and staff solutions. Transportation safety focuses on reducing highway fatalities by making our roads safer through a data-driven, systematic approach and addressing all "4 E"s" of safety: engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency medical services. Each of these functions holds an essential role in meeting the larger agency mission.

Integration of operations, safety, and multimodal transportation planning offers great potential for helping State DOTs stretch their limited dollars, maximize the value of their investments, and achieve positive outcomes for the transportation system. While new infrastructure takes a long time to plan and construct, operations strategies are often available in the near term to help address mobility needs at lower cost. Moreover, it is estimated that more than half of congestion experienced by travelers is caused by nonrecurring events, such as weather conditions (e.g., snow, ice, rain), work zones, special events, and major incidents and emergencies, that are not directly addressed through adding infrastructure capacity.

This reference manual is designed to provide "how to" information to assist transportation professionals in taking action to integrate these activities. It identifies and describes opportunities at various levels of decisionmaking-statewide, regional, corridor, and project level-and the benefits of these approaches. It also highlights overarching themes such as the important role of multidisciplinary teams; data collection, sharing, and analysis; and broad use of performance measures within each of these levels. The term "operations" is applied differently across State DOTs: here it refers to an integrated program to optimize the performance of State roadways and transit systems by implementing projects and programs that will improve the throughput, as well as the security, safety and reliability of the transportation system.

Organizing Structure

A structured approach is present throughout the reference manual to allow users to easily navigate this information and find what is most appropriate for their needs. Section 1 (Introduction) introduces the underlying importance of integration for each functional area and organization of the reference manual. Each of the subsequent sections contains information on specific opportunities, arranged in the following format.

It is important to remember that these opportunities or steps are often not independent of each other. Instead, opportunities often build upon one another and link together. Users should explore the entire manual to identify connections and relationships as well as take advantage of what they are already doing. Self-assessments may be useful to consider early in the process or to assess achievement over time. This feature supports a "gap analysis" that may quickly guide the user to the greatest need. The toolkits contain references to other supporting information outside of the reference manual itself.

Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Integration of operations, safety, and multimodal planning within a State DOT requires leadership from executives and managers. However, integration does not necessarily require large-scale change within the organization. Efforts to coordinate among functional areas can be undertaken by individuals at all levels within the organization.

Role of Leadership-At the executive level, even a simple statement of intent provides support for efforts to break down silos. Setting policies and strategies toward implementation through agency-wide plans will move the agency further along this path. Ultimately, an environment within the agency that supports enhanced cross-functional collaboration in conjunction with policy statements provides the most sustained support for this intent. The presence of a champion to encourage others toward implementing a new policy or action is strongly supportive.

Staff Level Actions " At the same time, staff working within the agency are critical to fully implement and sustain an integrated approach. In many cases, staff with a strong sense of the potential benefits can propel the concept forward. The case studies included in the manual in many instances began with actions at the staff or supervisor level. Staff within State DOTs can also use the reference manual to provide recommendations to managers.

Opportunities Across Multiple Levels of Decisionmaking

To provide a user-friendly reference, this document is divided into sections that enable users-from operations, safety, and planning functional areas-to go directly to appropriate sections based on the focus of their efforts at different levels of decisionmaking.

Section 2 (Creating an Environment for Integrating Operations, Safety, and Multimodal Planning) of the reference manual focuses on business processes, institutional issues, and human resource considerations that can support agency-wide change led at the executive level. It also is a useful starting point for readers who wish to gain a high-level appreciation of opportunities before reading other sections of this document. The opportunities described in section 2 are cross-cutting in supporting integration at the statewide, corridor and sub-area, regional, and project levels.

Section 3 (Statewide Level Opportunities) supports integrating operations, safety, and multimodal planning at the statewide level and may enhance integration at other levels. The statewide level provides an opportunity to establish goals, objectives, and strategies that support the larger agency mission. Required planning documents can form the basis for programming and demonstrate accountability by setting performance measures. Opportunities for integration can occur by developing links between safety-focused efforts (such as the Strategic Highway Safety Plan), operations-focused efforts (such as operations or ITS plans), and other multimodal transportation planning efforts with the State Long Range Transportation Plan. This is particularly true when interdisciplinary teams, performance measures, and data collection and analysis methods are brought into these efforts.

Section 4 (Regional Level Opportunities) focuses on interaction between the State DOT-often at a regional or district-level office-to address operations, safety, and planning in coordination with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), rural planning organizations, Federal lands agencies, tribal governments, transit agencies, and other partners. Data sharing and analysis tools provide key opportunities for advancing integration at this level.

Section 5 (Corridor and Sub-Area Level Opportunities) considers integration at the corridor and sub-area level both within planning studies and corridor system management and operations activities. Best practices that have developed within this planning level tend to be highly inclusive of many partners and stakeholders as well as consider a wide range of potential solutions. Key opportunities at this level include use of operations/safety data and tools in planning studies and multidisciplinary teams to develop solutions that include operations and safety strategies. Corridor System Management Plans directly tie together operations, safety, and planning through coordinated system monitoring and evaluation, demand management, traveler information, operational improvements, and planning for needed capacity enhancements.

Section 6 (Project Level Opportunities) considers integration at the project level, where representatives of each function commonly interact. Within project development are opportunities to effectively address operations, safety, and multimodal planning needs. Strategies can also be developed to address traffic management and system performance issues during project construction.


Integrating operations, safety, and multimodal planning within a State DOT is a way to increase both efficiency and effectiveness of transportation decisionmaking. This reference manual is designed to support transportation professionals toward integrating their functions and partnering with other agencies, such as MPOs, transit agencies, and local jurisdictions, resulting in a safer, more reliable, multimodal transportation system

Updated: 3/26/2012
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