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Policy Statement 495 - Operations and Management of Transportation Systems

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on March 16, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on June 4, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports a strong federal role in the development of a seamless multimodal transportation system to provide for the mobility needs of both people and freight. ASCE also encourages a strong federal leadership role in the advancement of effective transportation operations and management practices to enhance system performance, and to support maintenance practices needed to preserve our transportation investments. The U.S. Department of Transportation should play a leading role in exploring and promoting best practices related to innovative funding and financing options for system performance and maintenance. They should also partner with other public and private agencies in the research, development, and implementation of advanced technologies.

Federal surface transportation legislation should provide include support for the following areas:

  • State and Local Agencies - The Federal role should be to support and assist state and local entities in accomplishing related goals. Support should include opportunities for enhancement of education and training at all levels.
  • Flexible Funding - Provision of flexible funding. Flexibility in funding could greatly enhance the opportunity of meeting operations and maintenance needs. Expanding funding eligibility for operations and maintenance programs, enabling direct funding to local and regional operating agencies, and simplifying and clarifying federal funding processes are important initiatives that should be considered.
  • Playing an active role and partnering with state, local and private agencies in the development and deployment of advanced technologies. This includes support of research and development, provision of tools, and promotion of best practices.
  • Support Department of Homeland Security disaster preparedness initiatives, transit security and preparedness, disaster preparedness, asset security and tracking, vulnerability assessment, and creation of system resiliency are important priorities for both transportation system performance and homeland security.
  • Developing a seamless, multimodal, transportation system, including facilities and modal alternatives to meet the needs for the safe and efficient movement of people and freight. This includes development of terminal facilities needed to support modal transition. 
  • Encouraging public-private partnerships. The private sector has much to offer in the areas of operations, management, and technical skills, and can provide an alternative means of financial support for transportation system preservation, improvement, and expansion needs. It will also be necessary to ensure the efficient transition of both people and freight between travel modes provided to the public and those provided by private owners and operators. 

Issue

There is a clear and present need for an increased focus on transportation operations management, and maintenance at all levels of government. This need embodies the following: 

  • The aging transportation infrastructure is resulting in the escalation of replacement costs;
  • rowing congestion and incident problems are degrading the performance of the transportation systems in many areas of the country;
  • Capacity constraints and costs of new construction are placing a premium on the maintenance and improvement of the existing transportation system.

New technology is already providing improvements in system operation and management, and advancements in connected and autonomous vehicles may provide significant new opportunities for improvement in overall system performance. The federal government must play a role in ensuring that infrastructure needs to support these technologies, including elements such as communications, roadside features, traffic control devices, etc., are common to all providers and consistent between technologies, and actively work toward deployment of systems necessary to support this technology on facilities in all jurisdictions.

Customers have a strong desire for travel choices, timely information, and increased reliability to meet their mobility needs. Freight movement may also require a transition between public and privately owned systems, and adequate terminals are necessary to make these transitions seamless. Partnerships between private and public entities will be needed to support travel choice and for efficient transition between travel modes.

Homeland security and disaster preparedness requires an efficient and responsive transportation system. Transportation operations and homeland security can benefit from joint planning and sharing of resources such as communications infrastructure and traffic control operations. 

Rationale

An increased focus on transportation operations and management can enhance the system's performance. Just as enhanced operations and management can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation systems, proper levels of facility maintenance will serve to ensure continued service and reliability. Effective maintenance programs are critical for preserving the integrity of all components while protecting the investments made in the development of transportation infrastructure.

Advances in technology will continue to provide new opportunities to develop a safer and more efficient transportation system across all travel modes for the movement of people and freight.

ASCE Policy Statement 495
First Approved in 2002

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