Congestion Bibliography

Web resources:

The Contribution of Highways and Transit to Congestion Relief: A Realistic View
by Wendell Cox and Randal O'Toole.  The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1721,
January 27, 2004.
Does building freeways only lead to more congestion? Can investments in transit, particularly rail transit, help relieve congestion?

Department of Transportation: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges, June 22, 2001.  GAO-01-834
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires agencies to produce annual performance reports. GAO reviewed the Department of Transportation's (DOT) performance reports for fiscal years 2000 and 2002 to assess its progress in achieving selected key outcomes in important mission areas. This report (1) assesses the progress DOT has made in accomplishing these outcomes and the strategies the agency has in place to achieve them and (2) compares DOT's fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan with the agency's prior year performance report and plan for these outcomes. DOT's consolidated performance report makes it clear that DOT achieved only limited progress in fiscal year 2000 toward achieving the selected outcomes and that the agency directly indicated that its current strategies are not likely to result in achievement of the goals. DOT provided a clear, well-organized discussion of performance goals, measures, and data in both fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2002 performance plans.

The Effect of Government Highway Spending on Road Users’ Congestion Costs [by]
Clifford Winston and Ashley Langer, AEI-Brookings Joing Center For Regulatory Studies Working Paper 06-11, May 2006.
Policymakers attempt to reduce the growth of congestion by spending billions of dollars
annually on our road system. We evaluate this policy by estimating the determinants of
congestion costs for motorists, trucking operations, and shipping firms. We find that, on average, one dollar of highway spending in a given year reduces the congestion costs to road users only eleven cents in that year. We also find that even if the allocation of spending were optimized to minimize congestion costs that it still is not a cost-effective way to reduce congestion. We conclude the evidence strengthens the case for road pricing.

Freight Transportation: Short Sea Shipping Option Shows Importance of Systematic Approach to Public Investment Decisions, July 29, 2005.  GAO-05-768
A dramatic increase in freight moving on the nation's highways and rail lines, coupled with growing congestion and infrastructure limitations, has prompted DOT to explore new mobility-enhancing options like short sea shipping (SSS)--transporting freight by water between domestic ports, either along the coast or on inland waterways. This report describes (1) why SSS is being considered and factors affecting its viability, (2) the department's role in the development of this option, and (3) issues that should be considered by public transportation decision makers when making investment decisions about this option or other types of projects for addressing freight mobility challenges. This report is based on a review of pertinent studies, federal activities, and an examination of two new SSS operations.

Freight Transportation: Strategies Needed to Address Planning and Financing Limitations, December 19, 2003.  GAO-04-165
The strong productivity gains in the U.S. economy have hinged in part on transportation networks working more efficiently. The nation's ports, which handle 95 percent of overseas freight tonnage, are a key link in this network, and efficient intermodal links between ship, rail, and highways are vital to continued productivity gains. GAO was asked to address (1) the challenges to freight mobility, (2) the limitations key stakeholders have encountered in addressing these challenges, and (3) strategies that may aid decision makers in enhancing freight mobility. GAO's work was based on a synthesis of previous studies and a review of conditions at 10 ports and surrounding areas that handle almost two-thirds of all containers moving in and out of the country.

Highway Congestion: Intelligent Transportation Systems' Promise for Managing Congestion Falls Short, and DOT Could Better Facilitate Their Strategic Use, September 14, 2005.  GAO-05-943
Congestion is a serious and growing transportation problem for the nation. Many strategies--like adding new lanes--have the potential to alleviate congestion but can be costly and have limited application. Another strategy is the use of communications, electronics, and computer technologies--intelligent transportation systems (ITS)--to more effectively utilize existing transportation infrastructure by improving traffic flow. Congress established an ITS program in 1991, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) subsequently set an ITS deployment goal. In this report GAO (1) describes the federal role in deployment; (2) assesses DOT's ITS goal and measurement efforts; (3) identifies what ITS studies have found regarding the impacts of ITS deployment; and (4) identifies the barriers to ITS deployment and use.

Highway Finance: States' Expanding Use of Tolling Illustrates Diverse Challenges and Strategies, June 28, 2006.  GAO-06-554
Congestion is increasing rapidly across the nation and freight traffic is expected to almost double in 20 years. In many places, decision makers cannot simply build their way out of congestion, and traditional revenue sources may not be sustainable. As the baby boom generation retires and the costs of federal entitlement programs rise, sustained, large-scale increases in federal highway grants seem unlikely. To provide the robust growth that many transportation advocates believe is required to meet the nation's mobility needs, state and local decision makers in virtually all states are seeking alternative funding approaches. Tolling (charging a fee for the use of a highway facility) provides a set of approaches that are increasingly receiving closer attention and consideration. This report examines tolling from a number of perspectives, namely: (1) the promise of tolling to enhance mobility and finance highway transportation, (2) the extent to which tolling is being used and the reasons states are using or not using this approach, (3) the challenges states face in implementing tolling, and (4) strategies that can be used to help states address tolling challenges. GAO is not making any recommendations. GAO provided a draft of this report to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials for comment. DOT officials generally agreed with the information provided.

Impact of Congestion on Bus Operations and Costs [by] Claire E. McKnight, et al.,
November 2003.  FHWA-NJ-2003-008
Traffic congestion in Northern New Jersey imposes substantial operational and monetary penalty on bus service. The purpose of this project was to quantify the additional time and costs due to traffic congestion. A regression model was developed that estimates the travel time rate (in minutes per mile) of a bus as a function of car traffic time rate, number of passengers boarding per mile, and the number of bus tops per mile. The model was used to estimate the bus travel time rate if cars were traveling under free flow conditions, and the results compared to the observed bus travel times. A second model was developed that estimated operating costs as a function of vehicle hours and peak vehicles. This model was used to estimate the cost of the additional time represented by the difference in current time minus travel time estimated under free flow conditions.

Intermodal Transportation: Challenges to and Potential Strategies for Developing Improved Intermodal Capabilities, June 15, 2006.  GAO-06-855T
Mobility--that is, the movement of passengers and goods through the transportation system--is critical to the nation's economic vitality and the quality of life of its citizens. However, increasing passenger travel and freight movement has led to growing congestion in the nation's transportation system, and projections suggest that this trend is likely to continue. Increased congestion can have a number of negative economic and social effects, including wasting travelers' time and money, impeding efficient movement of freight, and degrading air quality. U.S. transportation policy has generally addressed these negative economic and social effects from the standpoint of individual transportation modes and local government involvement. However, there has been an increased focus on the development of intermodal transportation. Intermodal transportation refers to a system that connects the separate transportation modes--such as mass transit systems, roads, aviation, maritime, and railroads--and allows a passenger to complete a journey using more than one mode. This testimony is based on GAO's prior work on intermodal transportation, especially intermodal ground connections to airports, and addresses (1) the challenges associated with developing and using intermodal capabilities and (2) potential strategies that could help public decision makers improve intermodal capabilities.

Intermodal Transportation: Potential Strategies Would Redefine Federal Role in Developing Airport Intermodal Capabilities, July 26, 2005.  GAO-05-727
With the number of airplane passengers using U.S. airports expected to grow to almost 1 billion by the year 2015, ground access to U.S. airports has become an important factor in the development of our nation's transportation networks. Increases in the number of passengers traveling to and from airports will place greater strains on our nation's airport access roads and airport capacity, which can have a number of negative economic and social effects. U.S. transportation policy has generally addressed these negative economic and social effects from the standpoint of individual transportation modes and local government involvement. However, European transportation policy is increasingly focusing on intermodal transportation as a possible means to address congestion without sacrificing economic growth. This report addresses the development of intermodal capabilities at U.S. airports, including (1) the roles of different levels of government and the private sector; (2) the extent such facilities have been developed; (3) benefits, costs, and barriers to such development; and (4) strategies to improve these capabilities. GAO provided a draft of this report to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak. DOT generally concurred with the report, and Amtrak had no comments.

Marine Transportation: Federal Financing and an Infrastructure Investment Framework, September 9, 2002.  GAO-02-1090T
This testimony discusses challenges in defining the federal role with respect to freight transportation issues. There are concerns that the projected increases in freight tonnage for all transportation modes will place pressures on the marine, aviation, and highway transportation systems. As a result, there is growing awareness of the need to view various transportation modes, and freight movement in particular, from an integrated standpoint, particularly for the purposes of developing and implementing a federal investment strategy and considering alternative funding approaches. The federal approach for funding the marine transportation system relies heavily on general revenues, although the approach for funding the aviation and highway systems relies almost exclusively on collections from users of the systems. During fiscal years 1999 through 2001, customs duties on imported goods transported through the transportation systems averaged $15 billion each year for the marine transportation system, $4 billion each year for the aviation system, and $900 million each year for the highway system. Customs duties are taxes on the value of imported goods and have traditionally been viewed as revenues to be used for the support of the general activities of the federal government. Diverse industry stakeholders believe that substantial new investments in the maritime infrastructure may be required from public and private sources because of an aging infrastructure, changes in the shipping industry, and increased concerns about security. A systematic framework would be helpful to decision makers as they consider the federal government's purpose and role in providing funding for the system and as they develop a sound investment approach to guide federal participation. In examining federal investment approaches across many national activities, GAO has identified four key components of such a framework--establishing national goals, defining the federal role, determining appropriate funding tools, and evaluating performance--which could potentially be applied to all transportation systems.

The Need for Regional Anti-Congestion Policies [by] Anthony Downs, The Brookings Institution Series on Transportation Reform, February 2004.
Traffic congestion is essentially a regional phenomenon requiring regional approaches to
mitigate its impacts. This brief examines the governance options necessary to act regionally
and the conditions required to implement such policies. Currently, the reauthorization of the federal transportation spending bill (TEA-21) presents a unique opportunity to build on previous reforms and increase the decision-making power of regional metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs).

New Highway Proposal Fights Congestion with Fee-Based Express Lanes by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation, Executive Memorandum #882, May 22, 2003.
New highway reform legislation introduced in Congress in early 2003 could add tens of billions of dollars of new investment to our highway system without raising taxes. Called the Freeing Alternatives for Speedy Transportation (FAST) Act, H.R. 1767 promises one of the most significant improvements in the federal highway program since it was created in 1956. The FAST Act, introduced in the House by Representatives Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and Adam Smith (D-WA) and soon to be introduced in the Senate by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), will help relieve road congestion by implementing a series of reforms that allow states to raise revenues for road expansion by adding fees and tolls to newly built lanes.

Physical Infrastructure: Crosscutting Issues Planning Conference Report, October 1, 2001.  GAO-02-139
The nation's physical infrastructure consists of a broad array of systems and facilities, including transportation networks, such as roads, airports, rail, and mass transit; housing; federal buildings including postal facilities; and telecommunications services. In the 21st century, the following trends are likely to influence the nation's need for interconnected infrastructure systems and services: (1) the total population of the United States is expected to increase by nearly 50 million people, or about 17 percent; (2) the number of Americans aged 55 and over is expected to increase by about 60 percent; and (3) the suburbanization of population and employment will continue. The steps that the nation takes to anticipate these trends in infrastructure policy and investments will have a direct effect on America's economy and quality of life. To better understand these connections, GAO sponsored a conference in June 2001 to consider infrastructure issues from a crosscutting perspective. This report discusses the findings and conclusions of that conference.

Proposal to Turn the Federal Highway Program Back to the States Would Relieve Traffic Congestion by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1709, November 21, 2003.
Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has introduced legislation that would devolve, or "turn back," the federal highway and transit programs to the states by allowing them to take over collection of the federal fuel tax and spend those revenues on transportation priorities of their own choosing, not Washington's. The policies embodied in this bill--the Transportation Empowerment Act (H.R. 3113)--would significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of surface transportation programs without imposing a tax increase.

Reducing Congestion: Congestion Pricing Has Promise for Improving Use of Transportation Infrastructure, May 6, 2003.  GAO-03-735T
The nation's transportation systems have become increasingly congested, and pressure on them is expected to grow substantially in the future. Most transportation experts think a multifaceted approach is needed to address congestion and improve mobility. One potential tool is congestion pricing that is, charging users a toll, fee, or surcharge for using transportation infrastructure during certain peak periods of travel. Pilot projects to test this approach are currently under way in the United States and the technique has been used more extensively abroad. Interest in the usefulness of congestion pricing has been growing, as evidenced by several recent proposals. However, there have also been concerns raised about the fairness of such practices to some users of transportation systems. GAO was asked to identify (1) the potential benefits that can be expected from pricing congested transportation systems, approaches to using congestion pricing in transportation systems, and the implementation challenges that such pricing policies pose, and (2) examples of projects in which pricing of congested transportation systems has been applied to date, and what these examples reveal about potential benefits or challenges to implementation. This statement is based on prior GAO reports and other publicly available reports.

Rush Hour: How States Can Reduce Congestion Through Performance-Based Transportation Programs by Wendell Cox, Alan E. Pisarski and Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D.,
The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1995, January 10, 2007.
Traffic congestion in most of America's metropoli­tan areas has worsened steadily over the past two and a half decades and is at its worst in the nation's major commercial centers. There is growing evidence that this congestion, once considered merely a nuisance and an unpleasant side effect of modernization and prosperity, is impeding economic activity in some metropolitan areas—a trend that could diminish prosperity by raising the cost of products and services by way of higher transportation costs and wages, uncertain delivery, and production delays.

Saving Time, Saving Money: The Economics of Unclogging America’s Worst Bottlenecks [by] Thomas F. Hogarty, American Highway Users Alliance, 2000.
Traffic congestion is a worsening problem in many U.S. cities. A persistent and significant
source of that congestion is freeway bottlenecks — specific chokepoints on major highways that routinely experience traffic backups. A 1999 study by the American Highway Users Alliance entitled Unclogging America’s Arteries: Prescriptions for Healthier Highways identified the 166 worst bottlenecks in the country and evaluated the benefits of removing them.

Surface and Maritime Transportation: Challenges and Strategies for Enhancing Mobility, September 30, 2002.  GAO-02-1132T
The scope of the U.S. surface and maritime transportation systems--which primarily includes roads, mass transit systems, railroads, and ports and waterways--is vast. One of the major goals of these systems is to provide and enhance mobility. With increasing passenger and freight travel, the surface and maritime transportation systems face a number of challenges in ensuring continued mobility. These challenges include: (1) preventing congestion from overwhelming the transportation system, and (2) ensuring access to transportation for certain underserved populations and achieving a balance between enhancing mobility and giving due regard to environmental and other social goals. There is no one solution for the mobility challenges facing the nation, and numerous approaches are needed to address these challenges. These strategies include: (1) focusing on the entire surface and maritime transportation system rather than on specific modes or types of travel to achieve desired mobility outcomes, (2) using a full range of techniques to achieve desired mobility outcomes, and (3) providing more options for financing mobility improvements and considering additional sources of revenue.

Surface and Maritime Transportation: Developing Strategies for Enhancing Mobility: A National Challenge, August 30, 2002.  GAO-02-775
The U.S. surface and maritime transportation systems include roads, mass transit systems, railroads, and ports and waterways. One of the major goals of these systems is to provide and enhance mobility, that is, the free flow of passengers and goods. Mobility provides people with access to goods, services, recreation, and jobs; provides businesses with access to materials, markets and people; and promotes the movement of personnel and material to meet national defense needs. During the past decade, total public sector spending increased for public roads and transit, remained constant for waterways, and decreased for rail. Passenger and freight travel are expected to increase over the next 10 years, according to Department of Transportation projections. Passenger vehicle travel on public roads is expected to grow by 24.7 percent from 2000 to 2010. Passenger travel on transit systems is expected to increase by 17.2 percent over the same period. Amtrak has estimated that intercity passenger rail ridership will increase by 25.9 percent from 2001 to 2010. The key factors behind increases in passenger travel, and the modes travelers choose, are expected to be population growth, the aging of the population, and rising affluence. According to GAO's expert panelists and other sources, with increasing passenger and freight travel, the surface and maritime transportation systems face a number of challenges that involve ensuring continued mobility while maintaining a balance with other social goals, such as environmental preservation. These challenges include (1) preventing congestion from overwhelming the transportation system, (2) ensuring access to transportation for certain undeserved populations, and (3) addressing the transportation system's negative effects on the environment and communities. There is no one solution for the mobility challenges facing the nation, and GAO's expert panelists indicated that numerous approaches are needed to address these challenges. Strategies included are to (1) focus on the entire surface and maritime transportation system rather than on specific modes and types of travel, (2) use a full range of tools to achieve desired mobility outcomes, and (3) provide more options for financing mobility improvements and consider additional sources of revenue.

Surface Transportation: Many Factors Affect Investment Decisions, June 30, 2004.  GAO-04-744
Passenger and freight traffic are expected to grow substantially in the future, generating additional congestion and requiring continued investment in the nation's surface transportation system. Over the past 12 years, the federal government has provided hundreds of billions of dollars for investment in surface transportation projects through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and its successor legislation, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Reauthorization of this legislation is expected to provide hundreds of billions of dollars more in federal funding for surface transportation projects. For this investment to have the greatest positive effect, agencies at all levels of government need to select investments that yield the greatest benefits for a given level of cost. This report provides information about the processes that state and regional transportation decisionmakers use to analyze and select transportation infrastructure investments. GAO identified (1) key federal requirements for planning and deciding on such investments, (2) how benefit-cost analysis facilitates sound decision making, and (3) other factors that decision-makers consider in evaluating and deciding on investments.

Traffic: Why It’s Getting Worse, What Government Can Do [by] Anthony Downs, Policy Brief, The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #128, January 2004.
Rising traffic congestion is an inescapable condition in large and growing metropolitan areas across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, from Cairo to Sao Paolo. Peak-hour traffic congestion is an inherent result of the way modern societies operate. It stems from the widespread desires of people to pursue certain goals that inevitably overload existing roads and transit systems every day. But everyone hates traffic congestion, and it keeps getting worse, in spite of attempted remedies.  Commuters are often frustrated by policymakers’ inability to do anything about the problem, which poses a significant public policy challenge.  Although governments may never be able to eliminate road congestion, there are several ways cities and states can move to curb it.


Print resources in the DOT Library collection:

Alternative Performance Measures for Evaluating Congestion. - Final rept. (Jan 2000-Nov 2003).   L. N. Spasovic and J. P. Rowinski, New Jersey Inst. of Tech., Newark.; New Jersey Dept. of Transportation, Trenton. Div. of Research and Technology, 2004.
This report summarizes the results of the work performed under the project Alternative Performance Measures for Evaluating Congestion. The study first outlines existing approaches to looking at congestion. It then builds on the previous work in the area of evaluating congestion by incorporating the public's perception of what they consider to be congested through the use of a web-based survey. The idea of utilizing public input is not frequently seen in studies that look at congestion and its impacts and what makes this study additionally more unique is the focus on drivers in the State of New Jersey. The results presented are specific to the area and allow for conclusions in terms of the entire state, various classifications throughout the state (age, income, etc.) as well as more disaggregated county level findings. The major findings of this effort are that New Jersey motorists are more tolerant of congestion than what is expected according to nationally used traffic engineering principles. The study also found that although New Jersey motorists are tolerant of congestion, they experience a very significant amount of stress while driving.

Analysis on the Impact of Rubbernecking on Urban Freeway Traffic. - Final research rept.  H. Teng and J. P. Masinick, Virginia Univ., Charlottesville. Center for Transportation Studies.; Department of Transportation, Washington, DC. University Transportation Centers Program, August 2004.  UVACTS-15-0-62
An incident influences traffic not only in the incident direction but also in the opposite direction. There has been research on the influence of incidents on the traffic in the incident direction. However, research relating to the influence on the opposite direction of traffic is rare. Previous research has shown that congestion due to incidents account for 60% of the total congestion on a freeway system. These incidents cause the freeway system to operate inefficiently. By determining which variables contribute to the non-recurrent congestion and also the impact on traffic, mitigation techniques may be applied to minimize these effects. In this study the impact of incidents on the traffic in the opposite direction was investigated with focus on rubbernecking likelihood, delay, and capacity reduction. To achieve this study certain objectives were met.

Case Studies of Regional Traffic Signal Timing Programs.  K. Falk and E. Perry,
Science Applications International Corp., Oak Ridge, TN.; Federal Highway  Administration, Washington, DC., October 2004.  FHWA-HOP-05-002
As development in urban and suburban areas throughout the country continues to increase, the resulting traffic often leads to increased delays and congestion. Building on the Cross-Jurisdictional Signal Coordination Case Studies, this report includes five case studies from around the country that showcase how agencies within various sized regions work together to achieve traffic signal coordination across multiple agency boundaries within a region.
Development of Methods for Handling Empty Containers with Applications in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Port Area.   P. Ioannou, A. Chassiakos, H. Jola, and G. Valencia ,
University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Dept. of Electrical Engineering System.; California State Univ., Long Beach.; California State Dept. of Transportation, Sacramento., Department of Transportation, Washington, DC. Research and Special Programs Administration, March 2006.
The Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) port complex is the intermodal gateway to Pacific Rim trade and the busiest container port complex in the United States. Comprising of fourteen individually gated terminals, during 1999 alone, the combined ports handled 8.2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) containers. This figure implies that almost 4.43 million full containers were handled during 1999 in the LA/LB port complex (at the rate of 1.85 TEU/container). Usually the arriving loaded containers at ports are picked up and transported by trucks to their destinations. Having been unloaded at the importers, the emptied containers are returned to the port. At the same time, empties are picked up by trucks from the ports and brought to the export firms, where they are loaded with export goods. The loaded containers are then transported to the port to be loaded on the ship for export. In this procedure the empty containers are handled twice at marine terminals i.e. the first time when they are recycled from importers, and the second time when they are trucked to exporters. It is clear that a system, which facilitates the interchange of empties outside the ports, is not only desirable but also necessary. This system will reduce the truck trips to and from container terminals, and as a consequence, will reduce the traffic congestion around the ports. In addition to saving time for both truckers and port operators, the system will significantly reduce noise and emissions around container terminals. In this report, the empty container interchange problem is investigated in both deterministic and stochastic transportation environments. In stochastic networks the problem is modeled analytically and optimization techniques are developed. In deterministic environments, the empty container substitution problem, in which the request of one type of containers could be fulfilled with another type, is investigated. The simulation experiments are used to demonstrate the efficiency of the developed optimization techniques and approach.

Enhanced Freight Sketch Planning Tool for Assessing Multimodal Investment Strategies. - Research rept.  J. Botticello and C. M. Walton, Texas Univ. at Austin. Center for Transportation Research.; Southwest Region Univ. Transportation Center, College Station, TX, September 2006.  
In recent years, there have been dramatic changes in the volume and movement of freight within the US and internationally. Traditional distribution systems have been replaced by just-in-time driven processes and freight transportation patterns have become much more complex. Innovations in containerization as well as changes in trade geography have directly influenced international trade movements. NAFTA and the deregulation of rail, trucking and air in the latter part of the twentieth century also had a large impact on freight movement. Given these changes, it has become increasingly necessary for transportation planners to look to modes other than traditional highways as solutions for congestion and other transportation problems. However, public agencies have been challenged to demonstrate and contrast the benefits of these modal investments with traditional highway spending. During the first phase of the research a spreadsheet based tool, entitled Multimodal Analysis Freight Tool (MAFT) was developed to quantify and evaluate the benefits associated with multimodal freight investments. However, the tool needed to be further developed to accurately account for the rail and barge components and data regarding these modes was not readily available during the first phase of the project. This study addresses that issue as well as develops and analyzes a case study involving the rail mode and one involving the barge mode using MAFT. Additionally, given the uncertainty of assumptions made in the tool, a sensitivity analysis to determine the critical input values is needed. A critical examination of the output from several case studies was studied to determine the overall effect of these factors on the results. An assessment of the oversimplifications in the tool, due to its sketch planning nature, was undertaken and possible solutions identified.

Initial Assessment of Freight Bottlenecks on Highways. White Paper.  Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Cambridge, MA.; Battelle Memorial Inst., Columbus, OH.; Federal Highway Administration, McLean, VA, October 2005.
Freight congestion problems are most apparent at bottlenecks on highways: specific physical locations on highways that routinely experience recurring congestion and traffic backups because traffic volumes exceed highway capacity. Bottlenecks are estimated to account for about 40 percent of vehicle hours of delay. The balance--about 60 percent of delay--is estimated to be caused by nonrecurring congestion, the result of transitory events such as construction work zones, crashes, breakdowns, extreme weather conditions, and suboptimal traffic controls. This paper focuses on bottlenecks that cause recurring congestion.

Methodologies for Reducing Truck Turn Time at Marine Container Terminals. - Research rept.  N. N. Huynh and C. M. Walton, Texas Univ. at Austin. Center for Transportation Research.; Southwest Region Univ. Transportation Center, College Station, TX, May 2005.
One of the prominent issues container terminal operators in the US are seeking to address is how to effectively reduce truck turn time. Historically, truck turn time has received very little attention from terminal operators because port congestion has never been a barrier to their operations. However, with the recent explosive growth in containerized trade, terminals are straining to accommodate the truck traffic that moves through them. The heavy intermodal truck traffic is not only causing problems for terminal operators but for the public as well. The emissions from idling trucks are a hazard to people working and living in and around the terminals. With containerized trade volume expected to double in the next ten years, the problems associated with port congestion could get worse if measures are not taken to address the source of the problems. Terminals in some areas of the US are now required by state law to expedite the flow of trucks through their terminals. In California, any truck that idles for more than thirty minutes will result in a $250 fine to the terminal operator. This law has prompted terminal operators to look for ways to move trucks through their terminals faster, not just to avoid paying the fine, but also to lower the inland transportation cost of shipping a container via their terminals to remain competitive. This research investigates the two measures terminal operators are taking to reduce their terminals truck turn time. The first measure is investing in additional yard cranes to facilitate the handling of containers. To this end, this research seeks to assist terminal operators in deciding whether or not to make the investment. Statistical and simulation methodologies are developed to better understand the availability of yard cranes versus truck turn time. The second measure is implementing a truck appointment system to regulate the number of trucks into the terminal. To this end, this research seeks to assist terminal operators in evaluating the consequences of limiting truck arrivals into the terminals. Furthermore, this research develops a methodology to assist terminal operators in implementing the truck appointment system, should they decided to have one.

New Jersey Congestion, Security, and Safety Initiative. - Final rept. (11 Dec 02-31 Mar 05).   C. Knezek, J. Orth, and A. Maher, New Jersey Dept. of Transportation, Trenton.; Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC., January 2005.
The purpose of this project was to examine the relationships between effective national transportation congestion, security, and safety technology transfer applications. Next, a comparison had been made between national trends and the conditions found in New Jersey, and then the most appropriate solution was implemented. When examining the national transportation congestion, security, and safety technology transfer trends, the findings showed that security and congestion were interrelated through safety. Specifically, reduction of roadway crashes, and adjustment of driver behavior and use of safety counter measure applications had impacted both domains. They were similarly reflected in New Jersey with safety being an integral component of security and congestion. As a result, the Safety Conscious Planning (SCP) Model, a comprehensive safety system, had been selected and implemented as the network because it promoted the reduction of crashes that affect the security and congestions of the entire transportation infrastructure in New Jersey. The intended benefit of this implementation effort was realized when funding opportunities, resources, and technical support had reached country and local municipalities, where over sixty percent of the roadway fatalities occur annually. Another gain had been the collective empowerment of a partnership being applied to resolving regional safety issues. Also, SCP facilitated the involvement of local elected officials working together with safety professionals to organize local safety networks in their own communities.

Qualitative Study of the Core Functions of Smart Traffic Centers at the Virginia Department of Transportation. - Final research rept. May 05-Feb 06.  G. T. Shin,
Virginia Transportation Research Council, Charlottesville.; Virginia Dept. of Transportation, Richmond, June 2006.
The Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Smart Traffic Centers (STCs) were established to address the growing problem of increased congestion caused by traffic demand exceeding roadway capacity. Initially, the core function of the STC was simply to get information to the public. However, VDOT's STCs were established at different times with different approaches to meet regional traffic needs. As a result, practices, processes, organizational structures, and relationships with other VDOT functions vary widely among STCs. With this complexity, the definition of the STCs core functions has evolved. To develop a clear understanding of these core functions, a group composed of STC operations managers was formed and this study was undertaken. The study found that the core function of VDOT's STCs has expanded beyond disseminating information to the public, although that activity remains a critical tool of traffic and incident management. Specifically, STCs have four core functions: (1) traffic management, (2) incident management, (3) emergency operations/emergency management, and (4) regional networking. Incident management activities and events define the vast majority of work and, therefore, drive the development of systems, procedures, policies, and relationships with communities, agencies, and private companies with whom an STC must work on a daily basis.

Statewide Congestion Measurement Study.  D. Szekers and M. Heckman, Baker (Michael), Jr., Inc., Moon Township, PA.; Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation, Harrisburg, July 2005.
The federal metropolitan planning provisions require that all Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) with a population in excess of 200,000 maintain a Congestion Management System (CMS) as part of their planning process. A CMS is a systematic process for managing and alleviating traffic congestion that can take a variety of forms. This report addresses the overall process and specific analytical performance analyses related to a Congestion Management System. Although many of the concepts are focuses on MPO CMS activities, the analytic and prioritization recommendations can also be applied at the statewide level to assist in congestion monitoring and project ranking. The key purposes of the report include the following: Provide a structure to the CMS process; Review Pennsylvania MPO CMS practices; Conduct a literature search of CMS practices in other states; Review data and tools available for CMS; Provide insights into available performance measures and analytic computations; and Provide a list of 'best practice' recommendations for each CMS component. At the core, the recommendations include that a CMS should include a data collection and monitoring system, a range of strategies for addressing congestion, performance measures, and a system for prioritizing which congestion management strategies would be most effective.

Statewide Planning Scenario Syhthesis: Transportation Congestion Measurement and Management.  D. Kreis, B. Howell, and L. O'Connell, Kentucky Transportation Center, Lexington.; Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Frankfort, September 2005.  KTC-05-32
This study is a review of current practices in 13 states to: (1) measure traffic congestion and its costs, and (2) manage congestion with programs and techniques that do not involve the building of new highway capacity. In regard to the measures of congestion, the findings suggest two broad conclusions: (a) the most popular measures are not LOS or volume to capacity ratios; but rather the direct measures of either average time to traverse the distance between two points, or the average speed of vehicles. These are sometimes used to construct estimates of delay during peak traffic periods. (b) Five of the 13 states are either using or trying to devise more complex measures of congestion, measures that include estimates of the various costs associated with congestion. Regarding congestion management, most of the 13 states are implementing the 10 congestion management techniques identified by the study. When asked to rank the most effective techniques, the top four were incident management programs, signal coordination, traffic management centers, and access management.

Traffic Congestion in Florida: Trends and Solutions.  Road Information Program, Washington, DC.; Florida State Dept. of Transportation, Tallahassee, 2005.
The access provided by Florida’s transportation system is a critical component in the quality of life for the states 15.2 million residents and its visitors. Whether traveling to work, shopping, education or social purposes, Floridians value the ability to reach their destinations in a timely fashion. Yet the continued increase in traffic congestion in the states largest urban areas represents a growing challenge to Florida’s transportation system, impacting the livability of these communities. This report documents travel trends and levels of congestion in Florida’s largest urban areas. The study concludes with a comprehensive set of strategies to relieve traffic congestion. The major findings of the study are: Population growth in Florida has resulted in significant increases in usage of the states roads and highways, which provides the vast majority of travel within the state. Three urban regions in Florida Orlando, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville -- rank among the 10 areas nationally with the largest increase in vehicle travel during the last five years. The ten areas in order are Las Vegas, Charlotte, Dallas Fort Worth, Orlando, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Houston, Raleigh and Nashville. From 1993 to 1998, road and highway travel increased by 31 percent in the Orlando area, by 25 percent in the West Palm Beach area and by 24 percent in the Jacksonville area. Highway travel in Florida has increased by 63 percent since 1985 from 88 billion miles to 144 billion miles. Highway travel in Florida is projected to increase by another 35 percent by the year 2015. Florida’s population has increased by 35 percent since 1985 from 11.3 million people to 15.2 million people. Florida’s population is projected to increase by another 22 percent by the year 2015 to 18.5 million people. The increase in population over the next 15 years is expected to increase the number of licensed drivers in the state by 2.7 million, from 12.7 million today to 15.4 million in 2015.


Updated 11:23 AM EDT, March 12, 2015