In “The 2007 Urban Mobility Report,” the Texas Transportation Institute calculates that in 2005 Americans who commuted during peak hours spent an average of 38 hours per year — beyond their normal commutes — in gridlock. Furthermore, the U.S. Transportation Secretary has called congestion one of the greatest threats to the nation’s economy, noting that drivers annually waste more than four billion hours beyond their normal commutes and about three billion gallons of increasingly costly fuel in traffic jams. The greatest concentration of congestion often occurs along critical transportation corridors, which link residential areas, business centers, sports arenas and shopping areas. Travel demand on U.S. roadways is outpacing available capacity at such a fast rate that new road construction alone will not solve the growing problem.
One solution that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is pursuing is the concept of integrated corridor management (ICM). The USDOT’s ICM initiative focuses on providing real-time traveler information, coordinated multimodal operations and the use of technology to reduce congestion. ICM optimizes the use of existing infrastructure and leverages underutilized capacity on the nation’s urban corridors. ICM institutional partners manage the transportation corridor as a system rather than the more traditional approach of managing transportation facilities within the corridor as individual assets.
As Shelley Row, director of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO), notes, “Many cities have invested significant resources in an ITS infrastructure for highways, arterials and transit systems. It is time to leverage this investment and operate the system in a coordinated manner that encompasses technical, operational and institutional coordination.”
For the purposes of the USDOT’s ICM Initiative, a corridor is defined as a combination of discrete adjacent or related surface transportation networks (e.g., freeways, arterials, bus routes, passenger rail lines) that link the same major origins and destinations. It is defined operationally rather than geographically or organizationally. Many transportation corridors contain underutilized capacity in the form of parallel routes, the “non-peak direction” on freeways and arterials and transit services. Transportation assets are often independently managed and operated and traveler information is often incomplete, fragmented or not completely useful.
USDOT believes that ICM will result in a reduction in travel times, delays, fuel consumption, emissions and incidents, an increase in transit ridership, and an improvement in the reliability of travel times. The vision of the ICM Initiative is to help metropolitan areas realize improvements in the movement of people and goods through the integration and management of transportation corridors as a system. As part of its knowledge and technology transfer efforts, USDOT freely shares the knowledge gained through this initiative with transportation practitioners around the country to equip them to implement ICM in their corridors.
The USDOT ICM Initiative has the following objectives:
- Demonstrate how operations strategies and ITS technologies can be used to manage the movement of people and goods in major transportation corridors efficiently and proactively through integration of the management of all transportation networks in a corridor.
- Develop a toolbox of operational policies, cross-network operational strategies, integration requirements and methods and analysis methodologies needed to implement effective ICM systems.
- Demonstrate how proven and emerging ITS technologies can be used to coordinate the operations between separate corridor networks to increase the effective use of the total transportation capacity of the corridor.