US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Traffic Incident Management Implementation Proposal

Denver Regional Council of Governments

Project Goals
  • Incorporate TIM into the transportation planning process.
  • Utilize PlanWorks to inform decision–making and stakeholder structure developed to interact with DOT/MPO/Transportation Planning Region planners.
  • Connect TIM needs and solutions with transportation resources.
Project Outcomes
  • Assembled Stakeholder Groups
  • Collaborated to identify TIM needs
  • Suggested ways to incorporate TIM into long range transportation planning
  • Identified barriers in linking TIM techniques with implementation
  • Developed reproducible strategies to eliminate barriers in implementing TIM and improve our planning process

PlanWorks is a web resource that supports collaborative decision–making in transportation planning and project development. PlanWorks is built around key decision points in long–range planning, programming, corridor planning, and environmental review. PlanWorks suggests when and how to engage cross–disciplinary partners and stakeholder groups.

Executive Summary

To resolve the existing disconnect in employing

Traffic Incident Management (TIM) solutions in long range planning, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was awarded a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) Implementation

Assistance Program User Incentive Award for deploying TIM solutions using PlanWorks. With this award, CDOT has worked with first responders and transportation planners to find ways to help unite TIM solutions and long–range planning.

CDOT partnered with Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) for this project. Stakeholders from the DRCOG region shared their knowledge of TIM including TIM techniques that have proved effective in their area and made suggestions based on personal experience in the field. Project Stakeholders included law enforcement agencies, Fire & Rescue agencies, County government agencies, municipal government agencies, dispatch centers, public works, planners and engineers.

TIM Ideas

Over the course of several meetings, Project Partners and Stakeholders in DRCOG suggested ideas and concepts that could be executed individually or as part of the overarching TIM strategies. The DRCOG ideas and concepts are summarized in Table 1 below.

Table 1. DRCOG Idea Generation



Strategic TIM Plan and Implementation

Broad and comprehensive document that addresses all topics of TIM as a practice.

Traffic Enforcement/Recovery Area Strategy and Implementation

Provide enforcement/recovery areas for first responder activities on highway, ramps, or streets.

TIM training for private towing professionals

Future training target and incentive for TIM certification for towing professionals including rotation con– tracts used by law enforcement.

Web resource for Training Management

Robust site that tracks training, hosts calendar, registration, and useful links.

Signal Timing Plans

Develop signal timing plans for detour routes identified in Traffic Incident Management Plans (TIMPs).

Update Traffic Incident Management Plans

Update TIMPs to reflect recent construction projects and updated infrastructure.

Traffic Management Center staffing

Collaboration between agencies with integrated CAD, information and resource sharing.

Cell phone alert system

Similar to Amber alerts or weather alerts based on geolocation.

TIM Ideas (continued)

The Idea Generation exercise led to specific TIM implementation programs and projects that could be accomplished in the DRCOG area. This section details the proposed TIM program and project descriptions that evolved from the idea generation.

  • Implementation Plan for Strategic Plan Elements

    The DRCOG area has a desire for a singular TIM philosophy that can be easily applied to all levels of roadways in the Denver Metro area. The TIM Strategic Plan would be a broad and comprehensive document that addresses all topics of TIM as a practice. This document would need to be developed at the appropriate time to provide enough lead and prompt TIM inclusion in the upcoming renewal of statewide and regional plans.

  • Enforcement/Recovery Area Plan and Program

    Enforcement/recovery areas are pull outs on highways, ramps, or streets dedicated to first responder activities that were identified as strategies for the DRCOG area. The locations of such areas would require strategic planning based on various data including traffic crash history, roadway geometry, and first responder experience as well as an implementation plan. The region would like both permanent and temporary applications of enforcement areas. Permanent areas would be strategically placed and accompanied by proper signage. First responders noted that enforcement areas would only be beneficial if they were within two to three miles from the incident. Temporary enforcement areas would be required in construction zones since construction zones can often confine the roadway making it difficult to mitigate an incident. Characteristics for successful locations would need to be identified and applied in selecting preferred locations ensuring the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome and use. Criteria for these areas based on first responder vehicles and activities would need to be developed.

  • Web Resource for Training Management

    DRCOG would like to pursue a web resource that would provide a statewide way of tracking training related information. The robust site would contain a training calendar, detailed training information, and an easy way to sign up for training. It would track the status of training in Colorado by hosting a database of information of those who have been trained, allowing the state to identify not only what disciplines but particular agencies that require training. This particular feature would be administrative, and could provide a course of action for bringing TIM to those agencies who are not yet familiar with TIM benefits. The site would also contain useful links and provide suggestions for continued TIM education.

  • Traffic Management Center Integration and Staffing

    DRCOG identified this TIM Strategy which entails two objectives, upgrading systems and creating a mutual aid agreement or policy. The goal is to integrate CAD systems through the metro area to provide a consistent avenue for inter–agency collaboration, information and resource sharing with back–up and/or redundant features. This strategy would also require a study of current TOC staffing in the area. The goal is to combine assets wherever feasible, and interconnect systems to allow an agency to assist another by remote activation of appropriate assets.

TIM Barriers

In an effort to unite TIM and transportation planning, conversations were held with Partners and Stakeholders to identify barriers and how to eliminate the barriers. The primary barriers to incorporating TIM into transportation planning are listed below:

  1. Many Transportation Planners have limited familiarity with TIM principles and practices, as well as, many stakeholders are not familiar with the transportation planning process.
  2. A Statewide vision for TIM has not been established.
  3. A predictable funding source is needed to for TIM programs and projects.

An important solution to eliminate the TIM barriers at the foundational level of long range transportation planning was to involve Responders in discussions about long range transportation planning. The same holds true for involving Planners in the TIM process at after–action reviews and TIM training sessions. Building stronger relationships between transportation planners and Responders is a crucial step to unify TIM and transportation planning. This strategy also advances acceptance and support of TIM principles and practices amongst key decision makers and advisors within the transportation community.

The Partners and Stakeholders suggested developing a consistent and reliable funding source for TIM programs and projects. Currently there is not a predictable funding source to fund TIM programs and projects. Consequently, a majority of TIM programs and projects either compete in existing funding sources that do not recognize the benefits of TIM or are funded in an ad–hoc manner. Since many TIM initiatives are not construction–based, Project Partners were concerned that TIM programs and projects would not compete well based upon existing scoring criteria which places an emphasis on traditional infrastructurebased projects. Identifying a predictable TIM funding source or pool allocation would eliminate this concern and advance the implementation of TIM programs and projects. Also, if a separate consistent funding source cannot be identified or established, FHWA and CDOT can encourage transportation regions to place an emphasis on TIM principles and practices that would encourage individual regions to modify scoring criteria.

Project Partners and Stakeholders also expressed a desire for a cohesive statewide vision for TIM implementation. Each of the fifteen transportation planning regions in Colorado can incorporate TIM principals within their individual long range transportation plans without undertaking a philosophical change. However, developing a cohesive Statewide TIM philosophy, applicable to all levels of roadways, will provide an implementation roadmap. A statewide TIM Strategic Plan would be a broad and comprehensive document that addresses the topics of TIM as a practice and will serve as a guidance document for regions, counties and municipalities in Colorado.

Another solution to eliminating TIM barriers that can be used by any planning region is to include TIM principles and practices in statewide planning processes and planning documents. Partners suggested adding TIM principles and practices into existing statewide documents like the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Handbook and the Colorado NEPA Manual. These updates will help advance TIM concepts now for projects already in the transportation planning process. The strategy will also keep TIM concerns in the conversation into the future. Many of the statewide and regional transportation plans will be updated for the 2045 planning cycle soon. Based upon this convenient timing and the collaboration between Partners and Stakeholders, incorporation of TIM into the transportation plans can be accomplished timely as part of the normal update process rather than as a separate activity.

Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) Review

The project team reviewed DRCOG's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), focusing on how TIM can best fit into the existing RTP as well as providing recommendations to further solidify TIM as a part of future RTPs. Several references are made to transportation safety, crash reduction, and traffic congestion reduction, all of which are subjects that are related to TIM. Table 2 below presents a list of recommendations for sections in the existing DRCOG RTP to incorporate TIM in future RTPs.

Table 2. List of recommended changes in the DRCOG RTP to be incorporated in future RTPs.







"The revenues will fund construction of many types of projects, as well as maintain and operate the transportation system and its associated elements ."



"Encourages coordination between neighboring communities, between agencies, and between transportation disciplines. "



Insert specific reference to transportation safety in the list of current and future challenges.



"Congestion on major interregional highways such as I–25, I–70, US–85, and US–287 will be impacted by the increase in commuter and visitor trips to and from the region." This congestion will be further exacerbated if TIM is not properly incorporated into all necessary planning and implementation stages.



Add language and statistics regarding secondary crashes to the "Traffic crashes" bullet point.



"Transportation system investment initiatives may include expanding transit service and coverage, improving on–street and off–street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, widening and adding new roadways, promoting travel options, and reducing traffic congestion through TIM."



"Adopt Transportation Improvement Program project selection policies that consider all transportation users and maintainer (in reference to first responders). "



"Reserve adequate rights–of–way in developing and redeveloping areas, as feasible, for pedestrian, bicycle, transit, TIM, and roadway facilities."



"Reserve adequate rights–of–way in developing and redeveloping areas, as feasible, for pedestrian, bicycle, transit, TIM, and roadway facilities."



"Multimodal improvements and TIM techniques that serve bicyclist, pedestrians, or transit users will be considered for all future roadway improvements, as applicable."



"The region will continue implementingefforts to physicallyimprove facilities to reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes. If a crash does occur,the region is committed to reducing the likelihood of secondary crashes by engaging proper TIM procedures. Even stronger efforts?"



List "TIM facilities" as a bullet point



List "Safely and swiftly responding to and alleviating crashes and crash congestion." as a bullet point.



Add "On and off roadway TIM facilities" bullet listed under "Freeways"



Consider adding a fourth subsection entitled "Maintenance of TIM Assets" which would include a similar maintenance and preservation plan for all associate TIM assets (facilities, hardware, staffing, etc.).

Product Implementation

PlanWorks products were introduced to our project partners during three benchmark meetings held through the project process.

Decision Guide

Key decision LRP–1, LRP–2, COR–1, and COR–3 were presented to CDOT planners and region planners at the Region Planners Meeting. At this meeting there were open discussions about the development of the long range transportation plans and how to be more inclusive with stakeholders and how to encourage the implementation of TIM projects and programs in the region.


Participants were asked to take part in PlanWorks Assessments on two different occasions as the project progressed. Assessments were divided into Partner Collaboration Assessment, meant for individuals of the team who have decision making authority, and Stakeholder Collaboration Assessment, intended for participants who do not have decision making authority, but are interested in the project outcome. Stakeholders had limited exposure to transportation planning terminology prior to taking the PlanWorks Assessments and many stakeholders felt that the assessment questions did not apply to them.

Stakeholder Collaboration

Stakeholders from the DRCOG region shared their knowledge of TIM including TIM techniques that have proved effective in their area and made suggestions based on personal experience in the field. Numerous Stakeholders representing the entire DRCOG area were invited to participate in the project including law enforcement agencies, Fire & Rescue agencies, County government agencies, municipal government agencies, dispatch centers, public works, planners and engineers. Table 3 lists Stakeholder agencies from the DRCOG.

Key Outcomes

  • TIM is important and should be implemented in all transportation regions.
  • First responders should have a seat at the table when it comes to transportation planning.
  • Unifying TIM and transportation planning is on ongoing effort.
  • Developing a Statewide TIM Implementation Plan will assist in the adoption of TIM.
Reproducible Strategy Steps
  1. Identify Partners and Stakeholders Assembling the right team facilitates productive discussions to determine the needs or requirements of a specific region. An outcome of this project has been to involve First Responders will be involved in the planning process and including transportation planners with the TIM process.
  2. Evaluate Exiting Documents and Processes The most effective way to proceed with any new concept is to first identify the use of that concept in existing documents and processes. By utilizing the Project Partners and Stakeholders, it was easier to identify the existing documents and processes that need to be modified to include TIM concepts.
  3. Develop and Fund TIM Programs and Projects To deliver continuous TIM programs, services, and projects, a reliable and dedicated funding source needs to be committed. If a separate consistent TIM funding source cannot be identified or established, it is recommended that scoring criteria be modified to incorporate an emphasis on TIM principles and practices or to otherwise level the playing field for these initiatives that may not result in construction of physical improvements to the system.

Reproducible Strategy

The participation of the Project Partners and Stakeholders was imperative in accomplishing the project goal. Through the course of this project a reproducible strategy was developed that can be used by other regions to incorporate TIM into their transportation planning process. The steps can be used by any planning region in the State of Colorado or even any region within the United States.

Table 3. List of Stakeholders.


Adams County

Douglas County Sheriff

Jefferson County

Parker Police Department



West Metro Fire


Castle Rock Fire


Cunningham Fire

Columbine Valley

South Metro


North Metro Police


Denver Police


Arapahoe County Sheriff


Greenwood Village Police


Cherry Hills

Federal Heights



Next Steps

Project Partners and Stakeholders helped identify the next steps to create a direct link between TIM and long range transportation planning within Colorado.

  1. Incorporate TIM in statewide planning documents, guidelines, and approval processes as part of the routine cycle update.
  2. Include an emphasis on TIM principles and practices in Colorado's 15 transportation regions' Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTPs).
  3. Create a cohesive vision within a Statewide TIM Strategic Plan.
  4. Create a consistent TIM funding source.

Project Partners and Stakeholders helped identify the next steps to create a direct link between TIM and long range transportation planning within Colorado.

For More Information


San Lee, PE
TSM&O Programs and Policy
Colorado Department of Transportation
William (Bill) Haas
Program Development Team Leader Colorado Division
Reena Mathews
Federal Highway Administration