Congestion Management Process
The SJTPO Congestion Management Process (CMP) is an ongoing process which uses analytic tools to identify congested roadways in the region and select appropriate strategies to reduce congestion or mitigate its impacts. The CMP was revised in 2018 to take advantage of newly available data sources.
What is the Congestion Management Process?
The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is a federally-required process for metropolitan planning areas with population exceeding 200,000, including the SJTPO region. The CMP is a systematic process that provides for safe and effective integrated management and operation of the multimodal transportation system. The CMP is used to identify congested roadways, establish multimodal performance measures, identify congestion management strategies and means of implementation, and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented strategies.
In preparation for the upcoming Regional Transportation Plan update, SJTPO has revised its CMP methodology. The revised methodology takes advantage of newly available travel time data to measure travel time reliability and other congestion performance measures on all major regional roadways. Archived travel time data is made available to New Jersey metropolitan planning organizations through the Probe Data Analytics Suite, a product of the University of Maryland, under contract with NJDOT. This data can be used to measure the extent and severity of congestion regionwide, and the use of travel time data is now the state-of-the-practice for congestion screening. Other minor changes have been made to the CMP report to make it streamlined and project-oriented. The revised CMP Report shall be incorporated into the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan Update.
The SJTPO CMP follows an eight-step process modelled after the state-of-the-practice described in the Federal Highway Administration’s CMP Guidebook:
1. Develop Regional Objectives for Congestion Management – According to the Guidebook, these objectives should draw from the regional vision and goals outlined in the RTP. As such, the vision statement and ten regional goals from Transportation Matters: A Plan for South Jersey have been adopted for this document. Objectives should be specific, realistic, and bound by a specified time frame. These objectives will serve as the basis for the development of performance measures.
2. Define CMP Network – The key components of the transportation system focused on in the CMP will need to be determined. This requires defining two aspects of the system that will be examined as part of the planning process: the geographic scope and the system elements (e.g., freeways, major arterials, transit routes).
3. Develop Multimodal Performance Measures – Performance measures that will be used to measure congestion on a regional and local scale need to be established. The selected performance measures should relate to, and support, the CMP regional objectives developed in Step 1 of this eight-step process.
4. Collect Data/Monitor System Performance – With the performance measures developed, the next action is to collect and analyze data to determine how the transportation system performs. Data collection may be on-going and involve a wide range of data sources and partners. Several common types of data that can be used in the CMP are: traffic volume counts (automated or manual), speed and travel time data, transit data, bicycle/pedestrian data, and travel survey data.
5. Analyze Congestion Problems and Needs – As data is collected, the raw data must be translated into meaningful measures of performance. Specific locations with congestion problems present in the region or are anticipated should be addressed by using data and analysis techniques. Newly developed analysis tools such as the Probe Data Analytics (PDA) Suite may be used for this purpose.
6. Identify and Assess Strategies – The data and analysis should be turned into a set of recommended solutions to effectively manage congestion and achieve congestion management objectives. Potential strategies for mitigating congestion should be identified and assessed by working together with state and local planning partners.
7. Program and Implement Strategies – Project-oriented planning is crucial for implementing CMP strategies. SJTPO will work with its planning partners to prepare high-quality projects for federal funding, and to prepare Problem Statement reports for initiating projects through NJDOT’s Capital Program Delivery system. Implementation of CMP strategies occurs on three levels: system or regional, corridor, and project. SJTPO shall prioritize effective strategies in a regional context and integrate congestion planning strategies into the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) process.
8. Evaluate Strategy Effectiveness – There shall be an ongoing process to evaluate the implemented strategies and monitor system performance. Future decision making about the effectiveness of transportation strategies can be informed through this step.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) CMP Guidebook
The FHWA wrote a CMP Guidebook to provide information to Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPOs), like SJTPO, on how to create an objectives-driven, performance-based process. The FHWA CMP Guidebook may be viewed, here.