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

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Back to Publication List        
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-11-064    Date:  November 2011
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-064
Date: November 2011


Guide on The Consistent Application of Traffic Analysis Tools and Methods


The result of this study was to provide 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 has been directed toward professionals operating in State departments of transportation and other agencies responsible for transportation project development and delivery.

A transportation improvement project typically goes through the following six stages in the development life cycle, although this varies by transportation agency:

  1. Project need identification.
  2. Project initiation.
  3. Project clearance.
  4. PS&E.
  5. Construction.
  6. Operation.

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

The key to managing consistency of the traffic analyses throughout the various stages of project development is a PDAP that is scaled to the needs of each stage of the process. The PDAP is a scalable master scope that describes the project, its purpose, and the objectives of the traffic analysis. It identifies the MOEs that are used to evaluate the project and its alternatives, describes the traffic analysis approach (including tools, assumptions, and parameters), identifies the risks and contingency plans for dealing with those risks, determines the resource requirements, and lays out the time schedule for the analysis. This document has provided details and advice on the contents of the PDAP as well as information on how to utilize outputs from different analysis tools and visualization and communication aides.


Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101