Identification of Best Practice Metrics for Varying Levels of Traffic Operations Analysis

State agencies increasingly have to provide metrics that can tell a story, rather than report technical data only engineers can understand. State agencies tend to be reactive to project needs, oftentimes over-reporting results that do not tell decision makers the impact of the project on commuters. This approach can be time and cost consuming without much benefit to the agencies. New technologies such as probe data, video-based traffic counts, and dedicated short range communications (DSRC) also impact how much data is used in traffic operations analyses. Previous modeling techniques required static routing while today origin destination mesoscopic modeling is more in line with strategic congestion management. How should Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) report and evaluate projects considering new tools can do so much more than before? This project will identify the different types of planning projects occurring at State agencies and determine the level of analysis required to make reasonable recommendations based on the time and benefit to cost. Different types of planning level projects would be identified through coordination with State DOTs and their experience reporting various metrics. The effort would effectively perform a nationwide “before and after” analysis of how much was reported versus what was needed to make a decision and how those decisions could either have been influenced through better data outputs or were not necessary for the decision process. The traffic operations analysis methods should increase in data needs and complexity as the project progresses towards State, or more frequently, Federal approvals (e.g. NEPA) for construction. Ideally, methods would identify how they fit into the next step of analysis, or if as the analysis increases, some metrics should be dropped from the process. Metrics should also consider new reporting capabilities due to increasingly accurate data sources, such as reliability and land use equity (i.e. increasing service/jobs accessibility). This research would provide the ability to more adequately respond to leadership needs based on a standardized operating procedure. It would also normalize project metrics and processes across various types of projects.