US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Linking Planning and Operations


Operations and the Decision Guide

Increasing financial, environmental, and right of way constraints and the public's growing demand for reliable travel have transportation agencies searching for ways to do more with less. Transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) encompasses a broad set of strategies that aim to optimize the safe, efficient, and reliable use of existing and planned transportation infrastructure for all modes. This approach offers real-time operational strategies to address congestion as well as travel time reliability in the near term — often at a lower cost than capacity improvements. TSMO strategies are particularly effective when agencies are seeking targeted solutions to non-recurring congestion and events such as work zones, planned special events, inclement weather, and traffic incidents and emergencies.

Three areas of information support this integration:

  1. Operations and the Decision Guide (below). Each of the four transportation decision-making phases provides opportunities to educate and engage partners and stakeholders about TSMO strategies. The Decision Guide describes when and how to consider TSMO approaches, including questions to consider, data, relationships to other topics, and examples from current practice. See The Decision Guide below to understand when and how TSMO can integrate into the planning process.
  2. Congestion and Reliability. TSMO offers strategies for addressing both unpredictable and recurring congestion.
  3. Planning for Operations. Guidance documents and practical examples of success can help advance operations in planning.

Hover over the highlighted Key Decisions to understand the specific relationship of TSMO to the decision. Click on any highlighted Key Decision for more information about questions, data, and relationships that support this interface. Key Decisions that are greyed-out have no specific relevance to the individual application or topic area but are still accessible from this graphic.

Application Roles Example

The role of each partner changes from one Key Decision to another. Understanding partner roles and how they change throughout the process is essential to successful collaboration. The Decision Guide describes the four possible roles for partners at each Key Decision:

Application Role Index Table

lrp-icon
LRP

This is going to be replaced with a description for Long Range Transportation Planning.

pro-icon
PRO

This is going to be replaced with a description for Programming phase in the Decision Guide.

cor-icon
COR

Corridor Planning I'm sure has an important description that will be replaced with this sample text.

env-icon
ENV

Evironmental Review (NEPA) Merged with Permitting something something.

norole-icon
No Role

Does not participate because the resulting action is outside the agency’s interests and requirements.

LRP-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-1

State intention to include TSMO plans in the scope of the LRTP. Identify data, modes, and operational partners, roles, and responsibilities related to operations.
LRP-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-2

Incorporate goals and objectives for the long- and short-term TSMO and performance of the transportation system.
LRP-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-3

Identify evaluation criteria and analytical methods for TSMO strategies including those that incorporate mobility and other performance measures.
LRP-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-4

Identify TSMO, capacity, and the other system performance deficiencies. Engage operational partners and other stakeholders to identify problems, deficiencies, and opportunities.
LRP-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-5

Identify federal, state, local, or private revenue sources that could be available to support TSMO improvements. Recommended dedicated funding to sustain adopted TSMO improvements.
LRP-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-6

Identify TSMO strategies which can be used in scenario evaluation to address transportation deficiencies.
LRP-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-7

Incorporate TSMO strategies into scenarios and evaluate using available analytical techniques, including off-model analysis.
LRP-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-8

Include the effectiveness of TSMO strategies to meet transportation deficiencies in the selection of a preferred scenario.
LRP-9
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-9

Include TSMO strategy analysis and benefits in the air quality conformity process.
LRP-10
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
LRP-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

PRO-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-1

Identify public or private revenue sources that could be available to support improved system performance and reliability and critical day-to-day TSMO. Make budget requests, as applicable.
PRO-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-2

Ensure that the methodology used to identify project costs and allocate revenue includes equitable treatment of TSMO programs and improvements and the associated lifecycle costs.
PRO-3
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-4

Compare and rank projects and their impacts on system performance and reliability.
PRO-5
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-6
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

COR-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-1

Consider how TSMO will be included in the corridor planning study. Identify data, analysis needs, modes, and operational partners that will be included.
COR-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-2

Identify the TSMO performance characteristics for the corridor and any TSMO-related problems and opportunities.
COR-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-3

Identify the short-term and long-term TSMO goals for the corridor.
COR-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-4

Reach consensus on TSMO information that may be applicable to corridor projects in NEPA.
COR-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-5

Identify evaluation criteria, performance measures, and analytical methods appropriate to evaluate TSMO strategies on a level playing field with other solution options.
COR-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-6

Identify the TSMO strategies that address corridor mobility and reliability goals.
COR-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-7

Select a preferred solution set using input from a robust analysis of impacts on reliability and mobility within the corridor.
COR-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-8

Identify and include mobility and TSMO metrics to compare and rank projects.
COR-9
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-9

Ensure that reliability and system performance are embedded as part of an ongoing project prioritization and selection process.

ENV-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-1

Reach agreement about potential for using TSMO strategies. Identify operations data, resources, and stakeholders to include in the environmental review process.
ENV-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-3

Establish if TSMO is part of the project purpose and need.
ENV-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-4

Consider potential TSMO strategies and TSMO partner input when identifying the initial study area.
ENV-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-5

Identify evaluation criteria that adequately measure the potential impacts and benefits of TSMO strategies as well as related performance measures.
ENV-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-6

Identify project alternatives that will support the inclusion of TSMO strategies and treatments consistent with the adopted purpose and need.
ENV-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-7

Carry forward alternatives that address system management, operations and reliability.
ENV-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-8

Explain how alternatives address system management, operations and performance in the Draft EIS.
ENV-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-10
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-12
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-13
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-14
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

Congestion and Reliability

GHG graph

Congestion and Reliability - Are they different or just two sides of the same coin? A "just in time" way of life demands reliable travel. The many causes of congestion include both recurring and temporary, unexpected (non-recurring) disruptions to normal routine that impact reliability.

To address congestion, transportation professionals increasingly look to TSMO strategies for dealing with unpredictable as well as recurring causes. Congestion management planning offers many options to implement operational improvements. Use these ideas to get started:

Planning for Operations

Use the examples below to get started or to take your agency to the next level.

Regional Operations Coordination and Collaboration


Planning for Operations Guidance


Examples in Practice


Tools and Analysis