Engage in active management of managed lanes projects.

The experience of managed lanes projects in California, Texas and New Jersey.

November, 2004
Interstate 15,San Diego,California,United States; State Route 91, Orange County,California,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Successful managed lanes projects require active management and a consideration of the life-cycle characteristics of the facility. As conditions in a corridor change or the objectives of the community change, the operational strategy of a facility may also have to change. As a project develops, it is important to recognize and communicate to the public and to policy makers the possibility of change. ITS technologies enable active monitoring of managed lanes, providing information that can be used to develop or refine operational strategies as needed. An active management premise includes the following key elements, presented as a set of lessons learned:
  • Allow for flexibility. Successful projects must have the flexibility to alter operations. By including flexibility as a design element, the facility’s life may be extended because operations on the facility can be changed as traffic conditions in the corridor change or as community objectives for the project change.
    • The two managed lane facilities in California, for example, offer the flexibility of variable and/or dynamic tolling.
  • Establish threshold values. Threshold values should be established for maintaining a prescribed level of operating service.
    • At its inception, SR91 used traffic and revenue studies to determine traffic volume threshold values that would allow conditions to remain free-flow at 50mph and that would generate enough revenue to provide a return on investment to the private company that financed, built and operated the facility. Ownership of the facility has reverted back to a public agency, and Orange County Transportation Authority has established a new toll policy that clearly defines the triggers of toll increases and decreases for the peak hours based on traffic volumes for the corridor.
    • The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) also has set critical operating thresholds for the I-15 Express Lanes by establishing parameters for operations that included specific level of service requirements so as not to adversely affect the HOVs on the facility.
  • Establish a hierarchy of users. Determining a hierarchy of users may be an important goal for a managed lanes project. Depending on the objectives of the project, operators will need to establish a hierarchy of users and design and manage the facility to maximize the convenience offered to these users.
    • On the I-15 Express lanes and on the QuickRide project, preferential treatment has been given to HOVs, and specific parameters have been set so as not to adversely impact the HOVs traveling on those facilities.
    • SANDAG has given priority to transit users, using revenues collected from the I-15 managed lanes project to fund transit service in the corridor.
  • Monitor and evaluate the project. Under active management, there is a need for the continual monitoring and evaluation of managed lanes. Specific performance measures are defined at the outset, and then the project is monitored to ensure that those performance targets are being met. Monitoring technology, such as vehicle sensors, automatic vehicle identification, license plate recognition and user information systems can be used to assist in the monitoring of the facility. In addition, more comprehensive historical data and contextual data (i.e. population, employment, land use) must be collected and analyzed to determine if adjustments to operations are necessary.
    • On the SR 91 Express lanes, for example, operators have raised tolls several times as a result of increased congestion on the facility.
Through active management of managed lanes projects, performance measures and operating thresholds are established at the outset and then the facility is monitored accordingly. Adjustments to operations are made as necessary, to insure that capacity is being effectively utilized and that the facility is operating as efficiently as possible, thus maximizing mobility benefits to the corridor.

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Managed Lanes: A Cross-Cutting Study

Author: Collier, Tina and Ginger Goodin (Texas Transportation Institute)

Published By: Operations Office of Transportation Management - Federal Highway Administration

Source Date: November, 2004

Other Reference Number: FHWA-HOP-05-037

URL: http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freewaymgmt/publications/managed_lanes/crosscuttingstudy/final3_05.pdf

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Lesson Analyst:

Margaret Petrella
RITA/Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2007-00379