The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


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 congestion/how-to-fix-congestion/.

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 following categories:

The following is a small sample of some of the strategies used around the country to help alleviate congestion.

Parking Management

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 districts can:

How Will This Help?

Implementation Issues

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.

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.

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?


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