Enhancement of Freeway Incident Traffic Management (FITM) Plans and Assessment of the Resulting Benefit

Although CHART has been well recognized nationwide as one of the top efficient incident response programs, the priority of CHART operators in response to detected incidents has been mainly on managing traffic at the incident scene and providing assists to drivers. How to effectively streamline the traffic management actions for the highway network impacted by a major accident that demand the activation of the FITM plan remains a challenge to CHART. Conceivably, efficiently detouring vehicles to minimize the formation of traffic queue during the response operations of major accidents is a quite complex task, as it necessitates well coordination among various critical activities such as: estimation of the incident duration, the resulting impact boundaries, the available detour routes, where and what to display messages on VMS, and how to accommodate the detoured traffic with revised signal settings. Hence, a FITM plan with best planning and proper execution may yield substantial benefits to both the network drivers and the entire society. The impressive benefits reported by CHART annually are mainly produced from those operations that do not include the contribution of CHART when activating the detour traffic management plans. This study explores some potential areas for CHART to enhance its management of traffic during major incidents, especially during the implementation of the FITM plan. Various critical issues, ranging from minimizing the network-wide traffic impact from the operational side (i.e. reducing the clearance time) to detouring incoming demand with timely information and control strategies, will be investigated. Most importantly, this study will develop a procedure for identifying and computing the benefits to both drivers and entire society resulted from a well-executed management plan during major traffic accidents.