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Frequently Asked Questions

Why the emphasis on better linking transportation planning and operations?

Linking planning and operations is a major step toward development of a more optimized mix of projects for a region to meet its transportation needs. Projects include operations projects (ITS, signal timing, incident management, ramp meters, etc.), capital (lane additions) projects, safety projects, rehabilitation, and maintenance and preservation projects. It is a major step toward a process where projects are evaluated, selected, and prioritized based on common criteria and performance measures related to how well they meet the transportation needs of a region. This is especially important given the constraints of a limited (fixed) transportation budget and the limited numbers of projects that can be funded at any particular point in time. Another result is better communication among planners and operators in a region. Better communication means improved levels of information and resource sharing. Information and resource sharing equates to enhanced opportunities for improved delivery of transportation projects and services to meet a regions transportation needs and goals.

What are some the key components of linking planning and operations?

In broad terms, there are three underlying components. The first is developing a Regional Concept for Transportation Operations. That is, planning, developing, implementing, and measuring operations projects on a regional level. Under a Regional Concept for Operations, a goal or a plan for where the area wants to be in the future with a network or system of operations projects is developed. The second component is coordination and collaboration among all the players in the region. This would include, planners, operations staff, local governments, transit operators, MPO's, the State DOT, emergency services, law enforcement, and others as appropriate. The coordination and collaboration should be formalized and continuous. The third component is linking of transportation planning and operations. Specific opportunities for linking planning and operations are described below, and described in more detail in the publication "Getting More by Working Together – Opportunities for Linking Planning and Operations" that is located on this web site.

What are some key opportunities for linking planning and operations?

Examples of key opportunities for linking planning and operations include data sharing (archiving of real time data gathered through ITS for use in planning), collaboration and coordination of performance measures, development and implementation of Congestion Management Systems (CMS), funding and resource sharing, institutional arrangements, a regional concept for transportation operations, and the transportation planning process. These opportunities are explored further in the publication "Getting More by Working Together – Opportunities for Linking Planning and Operations" that is located on the FHWA Office of Operations website.

What are some specific examples of successful transportation system management and operations that includes linking planning and operations?

An example includes: real-time operations data being archived for transportation planning. Another example is a statewide or MPO long-range transportation plan that is developed that addresses regional operations needs. Another example would be the use of planning analysis tools to evaluate the benefits of operations projects for the purpose of considering them in the transportation planning process. Sharing of information about traffic conditions between agencies and jurisdictions is yet another example. The formation of a group(s) to continuously collaborate, plan, and advance regional operations activities, (e.g. signal coordination, incident management, etc.) that includes operations staff and planning staff within a region is yet another example.

Each section of this web site includes specific examples that relate to the particular section of the site. The examples include email addresses for obtaining further information.

Where can I find the definitions for the key words and phrases that are used on this web site and in other resources related to linking planning and operations?

The glossary provides a list of key words/phrases and definitions that are often used when speaking about linking planning and operations.