Coordinated plans in three Texas cities, eight nationwide, aim to reduce congestion
Congestion. It is the bane of the modern, busy and enterprising city. More than just an irritant for commuters, congestion is like a clogged artery that affects every aspect of a city’s “health” from air quality, to the economy, to quality of life.
A unique approach to easing congestion along major travel corridors is being led by the US Department of Transportation (US DOT). Known as Integrated Corridor Management, or ICM, the idea is to assemble a “toolbox” of transportation operational policies, analysis tools and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies that can be tailored to match the infrastructure and the characteristics of different corridors.
US DOT selected eight metropolitan areas nationwide to develop ICM plans for specific corridors. Three of these eight metropolitan areas are in Texas. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio were selected along with Seattle, San Diego, Oakland, Montgomery County (Maryland) and Minneapolis.
“Transportation agencies in Texas are doing many of the right things to ensure the efficient and safe operation of major corridors,” says Christopher Poe, assistant agency director at the Texas Transportation Institute. “The state is poised to take corridor operations to the next level, and developing these ICM plans will help advance these efforts.”
Poe says that while travelers do not seem to care which agency is operating the part of the transportation system they are using, they do care about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
“ICM plans to help answer questions like, ‘How do all of the agencies along a major urban corridor (e.g., transit authorities, departments of transportation and toll authorities) work together to operate roadways, buses, rail, and traffic lights and utilize other strategies to make things better for the customer?'” says Poe. “Cities, transit agencies, and TxDOT do a very good job managing their own systems, but working together, these agencies can reduce travel times, increase the use of transit, ensure the reliability of roadways and improve air quality. That’s where teamwork comes in.”
Teams in the three Texas cities (see “TTI and Teamwork” sidebar) were formed with transportation planners and experts from TxDOT, transit agencies, communities, stakeholder groups and universities.
The eight cities selected nationwide were chosen for stage one of a three stage, long-term project by US DOT. Each site was provided funding to develop a Concept of Operations or operational plan.
US DOT expects to select up to four of the original eight pioneer sites to participate in stage two, which involves funding to analyze and model the proposed operational plans in each corridor developed in stage one.
Stage three, the demonstration stage, will also involve up to four pioneer sites. As much as $10 million will be awarded to demonstrate key ICM strategies estimated to have significant benefit as defined from operational plans and modeling exercises conducted earlier in the initiative.