The USDOT’s ICM Initiative aims to enable corridor managers and operators across the country to optimize the use of existing infrastructure assets such as transit capacity along our nation’s urban corridors. The corridor-wide approach is designed to improve travel time reliability and predictability and to help manage congestion and empower travelers through better information and more choices. Row notes that the USDOT’s ICM Initiative, “provides a synergistic approach to the Congestion Initiative (see sidebar) as it offers the opportunity to truly advance transportation operations in a multimodal manner.” In a future ICM corridor, corridor managers could enable travelers to dynamically shift to alternate transportation options — even during a trip — in response to changing traffic conditions. For example, while driving in a corridor with ICM, a traveler could be informed in advance of congestion ahead on that route as well as alternative transportation options such as the location of a nearby transit facility, transit trip time from that location and parking availability information that would enable the traveler to shift to transit en route.
As part of this initiative, the USDOT is working with eight Pioneer Sites and having them each develop a concept of operations and system requirements for ICM operations in their respective corridors. The eight Pioneer Sites are: Dallas, Texas (U.S. Highway 75); Houston, Texas (I-10); Minneapolis, Minn., (I-394); Montgomery County, Md., (I-270); Oakland, Calif., (I-880); San Antonio, Texas (I-10); San Diego, Calif., (I-15); and Seattle, Wash., (I-5).
All eight Pioneer Sites are recognized leaders in the area of congestion management, and their efforts under this initiative will directly contribute to more efficient, faster moving and safer corridors for the future. All eight sites have committed to making the aggressive institutional changes required to implement ICM. The corridors of each Pioneer Site include configurations and characteristics that the USDOT believes represent many other corridors across the nation, and all possess infrastructure assets that can enable ICM. For example, all have transportation management centers (highway, transit and emergency management), some of which are co-located, and all have implemented real-time signal control on their arterials. Many have implemented advanced traveler information systems, such as 511, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and value-pricing strategies, while others have advanced bus operations that include bus rapid transit (BRT).
The Pioneer Sites will develop multimodal ICM strategies that apply new institutional and operational approaches and advanced technologies to existing infrastructure to help to increase travel time reliability, manage congestion and empower travelers.
Transit agencies are a critical partner in any Integrated Corridor Management System (ICMS). Steve Rochon, senior staff engineer at the Maryland State Highway Administration, describes the biggest potential benefit of ICM as, “the enhanced integration of corridor operations and the respective highway, arterial, bus, rail and public safety systems that support these operations.” He notes, “Some of this integration is already in place; however, ICM will take it to another level. [In Maryland], integrating operations and systems across modes has the potential to greatly facilitate the movement of people and goods through the I–270 corridor [which terminates at the I–495 Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C.].”
The Four Phases of the USDOT’s ICM Initiative
The USDOT’s ICM Initiative will occur in four phases. These phases are designed to promote innovation in the development of new approaches for efficiently managing existing assets within a corridor. Ultimately, these four phases will help the USDOT and the Pioneer Sites to identify and advance promising ICM approaches that can serve as critical next steps in the nation’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion and to improve transit service.
Analysis, Modeling and Simulation
With so many potential ICM strategies, agencies are interested in analyzing the potential benefits of the various approaches to help them decide on specific ICM strategies to implement. Phase 2 of the ICM initiative involved selecting a test corridor to help generate insights on the expected benefits of implementing ICM. The USDOT selected the San Francisco Bay Area’s I–880 corridor to serve as the test corridor after a careful review of more than 20 candidate locations. This corridor is one of the main arteries in the San Francisco Bay Area, with 38 miles of freeway connecting Silicon Valley with the East Bay. It is a major freight and passenger throughway serving the Port of Oakland, Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Coliseum, as well as a concentration of residential, industrial and commercial properties. The USDOT also selected the San Francisco Bay Area’s I–880 corridor because of the wealth of available corridor data, multitude of transportation modes and facilities (freeways, arterials, HOV lanes, transit, etc.) and the transferability and applicability of results and methods to other corridors.