Experience from four Transportation Management Centers' efforts to identify and implement strategies to meet their weather integration needs.
The weather integration plans that were prepared serve to guide each TMC's future integration plans but also offer clear examples for the benefit of weather integration for other TMCs. Each TMC established new partnerships, both internal and external, to their agency that served to enhance their overall operations, provide benefit to the traveling public, and chart a pathway to improved relationships in the future. In particular, stronger relationships were established with maintenance counterparts to encourage active sharing of weather information. Awareness was raised at all levels of the DOT organizations involved of the potential value of weather information to enhance the quality and content of traffic operations.
Lessons that are common across each of the TMCs in the study include the following:
- Use the self-evaluation and integration planning process to increase awareness of the value of weather integration, while understanding that TMC managers and staff may require considerable assistance in moving forward to incorporate new ways to integrate weather. The self-evaluation alone may not be sufficient if the TMC lacks the motivation to make real changes in operations based on weather integration.
- Recognize that constrained resources, both financial and in staff time, constitute a serious challenge to the successful promotion of weather integration in TMCs. TMC personnel are stretched to fulfill their daily obligations and tasks, so that taking on a new set of responsibilities, including modifying policies and procedures to support new ways of operating with weather information, may not be a high enough priority.
- Engage operations and maintenance as well as other stakeholders in the weather integration planning process to develop teamwork. The more effective weather integration depends on a seamless sharing of information and decision making across operations and maintenance, but the historical arrangements in TMCs often present major institutional and cultural barriers that hinder information sharing.
The experience of the evaluators shows that integrating weather information into TMC operations can positively impact the U.S. DOT's goals of productivity and improved mobility. However, TMC staff must be proactive in promoting the value of weather integration, recognizing that new policies and procedures must be put in place to effectively use weather information, and engaging their operations and maintenance counterparts in the initiative to achieve these goals.