Planning for Congestion
Long commutes, unpredictable traffic jams, increased air pollution, and traffic collisions are all consequences of urban automobile travel. As the Alamo Area continues experiencing unprecedented growth, the number of cars and trucks on the road will inevitably keep rising, along with the number of people driving alone in Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs). How do we manage or even improve congestion and its effects on the roadway network? The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is one method applied to planning to keep the AAMPO area moving.
The Congestion Management Process (CMP)
The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is a federal requirement that encourages regional decision-makers to evaluate the roadway system for problems that cause congestion and to determine solutions to combat congestion and associated side effects. The process seeks to determine which strategies work best for each corridor and the region as a whole. Unlike the long-range Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and the short-range Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), it is not a standalone plan. The CMP is integrated into the MTP and the TIP as an ongoing process to evaluate potential projects for congestion management factors.
The CMP was designed to encourage leaders to maximize use of existing infrastructure before considering added capacity projects. To determine what options are best suited, each major roadway corridor in the region is scored based on performance measures and its specific corridor attributes. Alternative infrastructure ensures parallel facilities are available to handle high traffic volumes. Multimodal options provide transit, carpool, bike, and pedestrian alternatives to reduce single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) traffic.
The most current Alamo Area MPO CMP can be viewed and downloaded here.
Congestion Management Strategies
The strategies listed below are utilized to manage congestion in the Alamo Area. These strategies are used to evaluate candidate projects and during planning. They are often combined to optimize the impact on congestion.
Travel Demand Management seeks to relieve strain on roadways by reducing the number of Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs)—automobiles whose motorists are driving alone. AAMPO’s Alamo Commutes program encourages SOV drivers to carpool, vanpool, telecommute, use transit, bike, or walk for daily commuting. Alamo Commutes features a social network and smart phone app to help locate others interested in carpooling or vanpooling, as well as information about walking, biking, and taking transit. The program hosts several unique challenges throughout the year and offers other incentives for members. It also provides for an emergency ride in the event you need to get somewhere quickly. More information can be found at alamocommutes.org.
Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO), Traffic Incident Management (TIM), and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) seeks to optimize usage of existing infrastructure through operational improvements and programs. The two largest causes of highway congestion are bottlenecks and crashes. A Bottleneck occurs when a road narrows (or loses the use of a lane) causing traffic to slow down. Examples of TSMO include optimizing traffic signals for autos and transit, freight management (especially trains as they relate to intersections with roadways), work zone management, and expanding multimodal alternatives, improved bike/ped networks, and increased on-demand mobility services. Traffic Incident Management (TIM) are operations to remove disabled vehicles and clear accident/incident scenes efficiently and safely. TxDOT’s HERO Program is a great example of TIM. Finally, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) enhances the ability to communicate with motorists via digital signage, collect and analyze valuable data, and control the flow of traffic through technology and other programs.
Like Travel Demand Management, transit availability plays an important role in reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) on the road. Alternatives to SOVs provide travelers more efficient or active choices in commuting or making other trips. Transit availability in the most congested corridors provides commuters, and others, the choice to ride instead of drive. The two transit providers for the AAMPO area are VIA Metropolitan Transit and the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) Alamo Regional Transit.
Active Transportation (bike and ped) plays an important role as a modal option for commuters and other travelers. A strong bike and pedestrian trail and path system in the Alamo Area allows transit and carpooling to be more effective, and the CMP seeks to leverage areas of high residential density, employment, and commercial activity using effective bike and pedestrian connections.
The CMP acts as the performance management hub for the AAMPO, keeping track of both regional, state, and federal performance measures. AAMPO has developed several key performance measures related to specific goals of the CMP. Monitoring the performance of corridors on the CMP network helps determine the effectiveness of CMP strategies as they are implemented in our region.