Consider the following three criterial when screening candidate sites for active traffic management solutions: limited capacity improvement options; operations and maintenance resources; and ability to coordinate among stakeholders.
A synthesis of active traffic management (ATM) deployment across the nation.
Made Public Date


United States

NCHRP Synthesis 447: Active Traffic Management for Arterials


Active traffic management (ATM) is the adaptation of facility configuration and controls in response to or anticipation of variations in demand, incidents, and weather to optimize facility operation. The objective of ATM strategies on arterials is to maximize cost-effectiveness of the facility. The purpose of this synthesis was to document the state of the practice associated with designing, implementing, and operating ATM on arterials. This was accomplished through a literature review of advanced ATM methods for arterials and an in-depth telephone survey of agencies that had indicated through a pre-screening process that they had a high degree of knowledge and experience implementing ATM on their arterial streets.

Lessons Learned

Practices associated with successful ATM programs:

  • Identify needs for dynamic management of arterial operations (recurring and nonrecurring traffic congestion with limited capacity improvement options);
  • Confirm that operating agencies have adequate maintenance and operation resources to implement and fine-tune the ATM application; and
  • Ensure active participation and coordination of multiple divisions within agencies and across multiple agencies in the ATM application.

Major requirements for successful implementation are similar for any major investment project undertaken by an agency: political support, funding, stakeholder engagement, and detailed planning and design. Major differences between the challenges of conventional capacity improvements and ATM investments appears to be the degree to which ATM requires involvement of multiple stakeholders, and use of new, unfamiliar technology.

Predicting and monitoring benefits of ATM implementation can be key to securing initial and continuing political and stakeholder support, yet few agencies interviewed had formal before and after studies. Similarly, most interviewees were not yet able to say, which performance measures they considered most appropriate to measure costs and benefits of ATM installations. This is likely the result of the relative immaturity of ATM installations in the United States.

NCHRP Synthesis 447: Active Traffic Management for Arterials

NCHRP Synthesis 447: Active Traffic Management for Arterials
Publication Sort Date
Dowling, Richard G. and Aaron Elias
Transportation Research Board

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Goal Areas

Focus Areas Taxonomy: