How to Fix Congestion
Source: Texas Transportation Institute (adapted by Airton G. Kohls)
Is congestion fixable? Well, we can
all agree that there is no one quick fix
for traffic congestion. The size of
the congestion problem in the largest
metropolitan areas is more significant than
any one strategy will be able to address,
but each strategy does represent a part
of the solution. The Texas Transportation
Institute under its transportation policy
section has developed a very user
friendly website with valuable information
on congestion management. Please
check it out at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/
The website is structured with tools
that can be used to filter and sort strategies
by type (more than 80 in total), cost, time to
implement, geographic impact (state, regional,
local, corridor, spot) or who is responsible (city,
state). I personally liked the success stories
section, providing potential implementation issues
and how the strategy would best help your agency.
Furthermore, the strategies are organized in the
- Traffic Management
- Additional Capacity
- Pricing Strategies
- Travel Options
- Construction Improvements
- Land Use Planning
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities
- Active Traffic Management
The following is a small sample of some of the
strategies used around the country to help alleviate
Cities are starting to see parking as a
commodity rather than required infrastructure.
Some cities are using new parking technology
with paid parking to better manage the available
parking space. Through online and smartphone
applications, drivers can identify when and where
parking is available at their destination. By using
real-time monitoring and active management
of changing parking rates, cities and business
- Ensure the necessary number of open spaces
- Reduce the traffic congestion caused by
looking for a parking space.
How Will This Help?
- Reduces localized traffic congestion by
reducing the need to hunt for a parking space.
- Reduces pollution associated with idling and
circling city blocks looking for a parking space.
- Encourages mode shifts by making public
transit more attractive in crowded areas.
Taking advantage of available parking is
desirable. However, where public agencies and
private entities provide limited parking space,
cooperation is often weak. This is worsened by
the fact that parking generates money, and no
party wants to reduce its related profit. The key is
to show that providing customer convenience and
improved efficiency helps everyone.
Reducing Construction / Maintenance Disruption
A transportation management plan should
coordinate efforts by several stakeholders, shape
public expectations, and include three elements for
controlling traffic operations during the projects:
A new technique for reducing congestion at construction sites is the zipper
(also late or joint) merge where drivers are asked to take turns merging into one
lane at a merge point. This technique has been shown to shorten queue lengths
by up to 35 percent.
- Temporary Traffic Control Plan (guiding traffic
through the work zone).
- Transportation Operations Plan (route,
departure time, and modal strategies to
mitigate project induced congestion in the
corridor or region).
- Public Information Plan (communicating to the public before and during the
error(1): function not defined
How Will This Help?
No major implementation issues are associated with developing a traffic
management plan. Planners must communicate with and include all stakeholders
early in the development process to ensure the plan covers all elements of the
project, including utility management, safety, incident management, emergency
services, law enforcement, and public awareness.
- Mitigates congestion and reduces delay caused by construction or
- Increases safety in work zones for construction workers and travelers.
- Expedites construction and maintenance on roadways.
Flexible Work Hours
Flexible work hour programs (or flextime) allow employees to work within a
specific time range during the day, often avoiding peak traffic periods, though all
employees work a core period of the day. Flexible work hour programs distribute
peak-hour traffic to less congested hours, reducing commute times and potentially
extending daily hours of operation. Unlike telecommuting, flexible work hours can
be more easily used by businesses that use shift work.
How Will This Help?
- Reduces traffic volume and congestion during peak times by shifting drivers
to less congested times or alternate modes.
- Saves employer and employee costs through happy employees and time and
fuel saved from commuting in off-peak hours.