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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-055    Date:  January 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-055
Date: January 2016


User-Friendly Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Program Benefit-Cost Estimation Tool

Executive Summary

Traffic incident management (TIM) strategies are major approaches to dealing with safety and mobility issues resulting from traffic incidents. As such, they are critical for traffic operation and management. These strategies support quick incident response, thereby shortening incident duration, and controlling traffic demand around the incident scene. Since some TIM strategies could be costly to taxpayers, and because resources and funding are limited among State departments of transportation (DOTs) and local transportation agencies, it is essential to investigate benefits and costs for different potential and existing TIM strategies. Some transportation engineers and researchers have offered different methods and software packages for estimating the benefits and costs of the various TIM strategies. However, the majority of these methods and software packages are related to safety service patrols (SSPs). Further, these methods and software packages employ a wide range of estimation methodologies and monetary equivalent conversion factors. As a result, benefit and cost (BC) ratio estimates vary widely for TIM strategies. This has created a need to develop a more consistent and standardized methodology for TIM-BC assessment.

Different State DOTs and local transportation agencies use different TIM strategies, and to meet requirements for most of these agencies, the research team identified the eight most commonly used TIM strategies according to surveys and interviews from a project advisory committee. Building on previous efforts from a prototype SSP-BC tool developed by the University of Maryland, this study fashioned a standardized methodology that can be universally and equitably employed in BC ratio estimation for different TIM strategies, which is essential to creating consistency and, therefore, greater confidence in the validity of the results. The methodology was incorporated into a user-friendly and less data-intensive Web-based TIM-BC tool to facilitate cost-effective TIM evaluations by State and local transportation agencies. The new TIM-BC tool covers eight different strategies: safety service patrols, driver removal laws, authority removal laws, shared quick clearance goals, preestablished towing service agreements, dispatch colocation, TIM Task Forces, and the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) training. As part of this project, the team conducted a case study of the New York experience, which compared the effectiveness of implementing three selected TIM strategies: safety service patrols, driver removal laws, and dispatch colocation. The case study example may also help practitioners to understand the need for a standardized BC ratio estimation tool and the effectiveness of a developed TIM-BC tool. In the final section, conclusions from this project and recommendations for future research are presented.



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