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Public Roads - Mar/Apr 2008

Mar/Apr 2008
Issue No:
Vol. 71 No. 5
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Integrated Corridor Management

by Brian Cronin, Steve Mortensen, and Dale Thompson

USDOT and eight pioneer sites are addressing congestion, empowering travelers, and improving travel time reliability.

Congestion like this could be reduced with the ICM Initiative, which aims to help metropolitan areas realize significant improvements in the efficient movement of people and goods through aggressive, proactive integration and management of major transportation corridors.

In May 2006, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced a major effort to reduce highway, freight, and aviation tieups — the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network (the "Congestion Initiative"). Naming congestion as one of the greatest threats to the Nation's economy, USDOT noted that businesses lose an estimated $200 billion per year due to freight bottlenecks, and drivers waste nearly 4 billion hours and more than 2 billion gallons of fuel in traffic jams.

In The 2007 Urban Mobility Report, the Texas Transportation Institute calculates that in 2005 Americans who commute during peak hours spent an average of 38 hours per year — beyond their normal commutes — in gridlock. The greatest congestion often occurs along critical transportation corridors, which link residential areas with business centers, sports arenas, and shopping areas. Travel demand on U.S. roadways is outpacing available capacity, but new road construction alone will not solve the growing problem.

One solution USDOT is pursuing is the concept of integrated corridor management (ICM). "The [ICM] Initiative leverages the investments of agencies to improve the movement of people and goods along metropolitan corridors through a multimodal, integrated transportation management approach," says Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Associate Administrator for Operations Jeff Paniati.

ICM optimizes use of existing infrastructure and leverages underutilized capacity on the Nation's urban corridors. ICM institutional partners manage the transportation corridor as a system rather than using the more traditional approach of managing roadways as individual assets.

Paniati continues, "The integration of operations programs, such as traffic incident management, work zone management, traffic signal timing, managed lanes, real-time traveler information, and active traffic management, helps maximize the capacity of all facilities and modes across the corridors and allows for greater mobility."

USDOT is funding a 5-year initiative to help advance the state of the practice in the ICM field. As part of its knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) efforts, USDOT will share knowledge gained through the ICM Initiative with transportation practitioners around the country. The approach is expected to reduce travel times, delays, fuel consumption, emissions, and incidents, thereby increasing the reliability and predictability of travel.

"Perhaps the biggest potential benefit of ICM is the enhanced integration of corridor operations and the respective highway, arterial, bus, rail, and public safety systems that support these operations," says Steve Rochon, senior staff engineer at the Maryland State Highway Administration. "Some of this integration is already in place; however, ICM will take it to another level. [In Maryland], integrating operations and systems across modes has the potential to greatly facilitate the movement of people and goods through the I-270 corridor [which terminates at the I-495 Capital Beltway around Washington, DC]."

What Is ICM?

Transportation corridors often contain underutilized capacity in the form of parallel routes freeway and arterial lanes — single-occupant vehicles, and transit services that could be tapped to help reduce congestion. Frequently, traffic information is fragmented, out--dated, or not completely useful. Also, networks often are operated independently, and efforts to reduce congestion so far have focused on optimizing individual networks.

The combined application of technologies and a commitment by network partners to work together have the potential to transform the ways that corridors are operated. Recent advancements in intelligent transportation system (ITS) technologies, such as real-time traveler information and parking management systems, present opportunities to integrate operations and manage total corridor capacity.

"To accomplish the goals of ICM, all our partner agency representatives put away their badges, as we intend to operate our corridor in a true multimodal, integrated, efficient, and safe fashion where the focus is on the transportation customer," says Koorosh Olyai, assistant vice president for mobility programs development at Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

With ICM, partner agencies manage the corridor as an integrated asset to improve travel time reliability and predictability, help manage congestion, and empower travelers through improved information and choices. In an ICM corridor, because of proactive multimodal management of infrastructure assets by institutional partners, travelers could receive actionable information based on the entire transportation network. Travelers then could shift to alternative transportation options — even during a trip — in response to changing traffic conditions.

"The Federal Transit Administration [FTA] is committed to supporting integrated corridor management," says Walter Kulyk, director of FTA's Office of Mobility Innovation. "Transit can offer additional corridor capacity and provide an option for travelers during normal operations and during planned and unplanned events. Also, transit ITS technologies increase transit flexibility, efficiency, and convenience for travelers."

What Is the ICM Initiative?

The ICM Initiative focuses on providing real-time traveler information and multimodal operations, and using technology to reduce congestion. "Historically State and local agencies have developed independent systems between freeways, arterials, and transit," says Freeway Operations Engineer Brian Kary, with the Regional Transportation Management Center at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "ICM will help bridge the gap between these systems, allowing them to function as one. By developing ICM on a corridor, transportation agencies can better utilize existing capacity along multiple networks, especially in times of incidents or special events."

With ICM, the various modes of transportation and elements of the infrastructure are managed together in a given corridor or region, giving the public more travel options and easing congestion.
While driving in a future ICM corridor, a traveler could be informed in advance of congestion ahead on that route and seek alternative transportation options, as illustrated in this stylized representation of an ICM corridor.
With ICM, the various partner agencies manage the transportation corridor as a system rather than the traditional approach of managing individual assets.

The ICM Initiative has three objectives:

  • Demonstrate how operations strategies and ITS technologies can efficiently and proactively speed the movement of people and goods in major transportation corridors through integrated management of all networks in a corridor.
  • Develop a toolbox of operational policies, cross-network operational strategies, integration requirements and methods, and analysis methodologies needed to implement effective ICM systems.
  • Demonstrate how proven and emerging ITS technologies can coordinate operations between separate corridor networks to increase effective use of the corridor's total transportation capacity.

The ICM Initiative "offers the opportunity to truly advance transportation operations in a multimodal manner," says Shelley J. Row, director of USDOT's ITS Joint Program Office (JPO). "Many cities have invested significant resources in ITS infrastructure for highways, arterials, and transit systems. It's time to leverage this investment and operate the system in a coordinated manner that encompasses technical, operational, and institutional coordination."

USDOT Selects ICM Pioneer Sites

In September 2006 USDOT selected eight pioneer sites to act as critical partners in the development, deployment, and evaluation of ICM strategies: Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, TX; Oakland and San Diego, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Montgomery County, MD; and Seattle, WA.

The eight sites are recognized leaders in congestion management. Their efforts under the ICM Initiative are expected to contribute directly to more efficient, faster moving, and safer corridors for the future. USDOT believes that each site's corridors include assets and qualities characteristic of many other corridors across the Nation and that they lend themselves to ICM. For example, all the sites have implemented real-time signal control on their arterials. Many have deployed high occupancy vehicle and value-pricing strategies, while others have established advanced bus operations that include express bus and bus rapid transit services.

How Is ICM Different From Traditional Approaches?

ICM is different from traditional transportation management in that its emphasis is on coordinated, multimodal, cross-network operations within a corridor, and on the efficient use of existing network assets to manage congestion and empower travelers through improved information and greater choice.

ICM builds upon regional information sharing and management approaches to provide integrated operations along various corridors within a region. ICM takes the next step from integrated operations at a corridor level to integrated management at a regional level. A region is likely to contain one or more corridors. ICM is distinct from regional approaches. Regional management focuses primarily on information sharing, coordination, and collaboration among agencies; however, ICM goes beyond regional collaboration to include cross-operations of the various networks within the region.

Integrated operations within a corridor apply to a variety of scenarios and challenges, including incident management, special event management, emergency management, managed lanes, and recurring congestion. Although regional management encompasses a number of similar activities, considering just what these various operational activities entail and how they are accomplished from both a corridor and broader regional perspective is important.

For example, although traveler information has a regional focus in terms of where it is obtained and how it is distributed, facilitating individual traveler needs requires that corridor information provide travelers with a means to compare their travel alternatives to help them make choices. This requirement means that the corridor travel conditions must be presented in a way that is network- and mode-neutral so that each alternative can be compared easily.

The Four Phases Of the ICM Initiative

The ICM Initiative will be implemented in four phases designed to promote innovation in the development of new approaches for managing existing assets efficiently within a corridor. Ultimately the phases will help USDOT and the pioneer sites identify and advance promising ICM approaches that can serve as critical next steps in the Nation's efforts to reduce traffic congestion. Note that phases 2 through 4 occur concurrently to some extent.

Phase 1: Foundational Research

Phase 1 was completed in early 2006 and included research into the current state of corridor management in the United States, principal examples of ICM-like practices around the world, initial feasibility, and development of preliminary technical guidance such as a generic concept of operations for ICM to serve as a resource for sites seeking to develop their own concepts.

As part of phase 1, USDOT worked with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) to form a multimodal stakeholder group consisting of representatives from the public and private sectors. As a result of the phase 1 research, USDOT decided to move forward with the ICM Initiative.

USDOT documented the phase 1 foundational research in a set of technical memoranda, all of which are available on the Web-based ICM Knowledgebase at (See "A Wealth of Information" below.)


Phase 2: Corridor Tools, Strategies, and Integration

Phase 2 began in September 2006 and will run concurrently with phases 3 and 4, through fiscal year (FY) 2011. The goal of phase 2 is to develop the tools and components necessary to support ICM operations and apply those tools in one or more site demonstrations. Phase 2 also will include analyzing the benefits expected to be derived from implementing ICM systems.

This phase will develop analytic tools and methods that enable implementation and evaluation of ICM strategies. The phase will include limited laboratory testing of ICM strategies; selection and calibration of modeling and simulation tools; and application of the modeling tools using real-world data from a test corridor to generate insights into the potential mobility impacts of specific strategies under a range of conditions or scenarios, such as planned special events, peak flow congestion, and incidents. Modeling of the test corridor is expected to be completed in spring 2008.

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The outcomes of this phase will help decisionmakers identify gaps; evaluate ICM strategies; and invest in the best combination of strategies to minimize congestion, improve safety, and help estimate the benefits resulting from ICM across different transportation modes and traffic control systems. Knowledge of the analysis methodologies, tools, and possible benefits of ICM strategies will be made available to the pioneer sites and the entire transportation community. The overall effort of phase 2 will result in validated and tested methodologies to support ICM analysis.

Phase 3: Corridor Site Development, Analysis, And Demonstration

In phase 3, USDOT will model up to three ICM approaches developed by the pioneer sites using the analysis tools that were developed and refined in phase 2. It will then fund demonstration and evaluation of ICM approaches at up to three pioneer sites. Together, the modeling, demonstration, and evaluation will provide comprehensive insight into the ICM strategies and approaches with the greatest potential. Phase 3 consists of three stages.

Stage 1: Concept Development (FY 2007). All eight pioneer sites are developing site-specific concepts of operations and requirements documents. Each site also will provide sample data for evaluation. The sites began working on this stage in October 2006 and are expected to complete concept and requirements development in spring 2008.

Stage 2: Modeling of Pioneer Site ICM Strategies (FY08-FY09). Using resources, methodologies, and tools developed in phase 2, USDOT will analyze and model ICM strategies and systems at up to three pioneer sites to gain insight into potential mobility impacts of ICM strategies. USDOT expects to announce the sites that will participate in this stage after completion of stage 1.

Stage 3: Demonstration and Evaluation (FY09-FY11). After the stage 2 modeling and analysis is complete, USDOT will select up to three pioneer sites to demonstrate ICM concepts that could be applicable to a broad range of corridors around the country. These sites will demonstrate the application of institutional, operational, and technical integration approaches in the field, and document implementation issues and operational benefits. USDOT expects to announce the sites that will participate in this stage after completion of stage 2.

A Wealth of Information

The key ICM KTT products include the ICM Knowledgebase and the quarterly newsletter.

USDOT unveiled the Knowledgebase at the ITSA annual meeting in June 2007. The readily searchable, Web-based reference tool provides transportation professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to implement ICM in their corridors. The Knowledgebase contains cutting-edge knowledge developed through the ICM Initiative, such as the generic concept of operations as well as lessons learned and resources from the pioneer sites.

Designed with input from ICM stakeholders, the Knowledgebase is intended to help users conveniently access the information they need. Users may search by keyword or browse the contents by accessing a number of views, including type of resource (guidance, lessons learned, presentation, etc.), associated systems engineering or ICM life-cycle step, publication date of document, or conference/event. The Knowledgebase also saves users time by providing short document abstracts; usage guidance for target audiences; and other information, including file size and number of pages, to help users determine which documents are most useful to them before opening or downloading. Documents are added regularly as the ICM Initiative progresses.

The Knowledgebase is part of an overall ICM Web site, available at More information on the Knowledgebase is available at

The quarterly newsletter, launched in June 2007, informs transportation practitioners about developments in the ICM Initiative and highlights the latest knowledge and technology transfer materials. The newsletter is available at

Attendees at the 2007 ITSA annual meeting had the opportunity to network with representatives of the ICM pioneer sites and ask questions of the people leading the development of ICM strategies. Here, attendees look at posters at the ICM showcase.

Phase 4: ICM Outreach And Knowledge and Technology Transfer

In phase 4, a comprehensive set of resources will be used for KTT to transportation practitioners around the country interested in implementing ICM in their corridors. More than 20 ICM stakeholders, including representatives from each pioneer site, contributed to development of the ICM KTT strategy using virtual collaborative technology.

KTT resources will be made available to transportation practitioners through the Web-based ICM Knowledgebase, peer-to-peer training such as Web-based seminars and mobile workshops, conferences, and printed materials such as factsheets and guidance documents. The KTT mission is to equip practitioners in corridors around the country to implement ICM. The following resources currently are available on the Web site: the generic ICM concept of operations, ICM implementation guide, requirements guidance, technical guidance on corridor definitions and other topics, and outreach documents such as factsheets and a quarterly newsletter.

As part of phase 4, USDOT will host two outreach events to raise awareness about ICM and the leadership undertaken by the pioneer sites. The events will provide a platform for developing and disseminating outreach materials — including the newsletter, brochures, articles, press kits, and visual presentations — that can be customized by regions around the country to raise awareness about ICM in their areas.

Next Steps

USDOT is committed to equipping transportation practitioners across the country with tools to implement ICM, which representatives from the pioneer sites describe as the "next logical step for the Nation's corridors." The pioneer sites have developed their own concepts of operations, based on the generic version, and are developing requirements documents for their ICM concepts.

ICM in Action

For examples of ICM in action, please visit the ICM Web site at The site contains examples of how ICM concepts have been applied to real-world situations, as well as a sample concept of operations that shows how ICM could be applied to a generic corridor. In addition, the ICM concepts of operations for the pioneer sites will be available on the ICM Web site in spring 2008.

USDOT expects to post the pioneer sites' concepts of operations and requirements documents, as well as lessons learned from these activities, on the ICM Knowledgebase ( in spring 2008. Early results from the analysis and modeling efforts using the test corridor also should be available in spring 2008. Further, USDOT will host panel discussions, workshops, and webinars over the next year to transfer knowledge to interested transportation practitioners.

This graphic displays planned timelines for the ICM Initiative. Time is shown across the top in terms of fiscal years (FY): FY 2006, FY 2007, FY 2008, FY 2009, FY 2010, and FY 2011. Beneath that, a bar labeled 'Stakeholder Working Group' spans the entire period FY 2006-FY 2011. Beneath that is a bar for phase 1: Foundational Research, taking up the first half of FY 2006. Phase 2: Corridor Tools, Strategies, and Integration begins in mid-FY 2006 and goes through FY 2011. Phase 3: Corridor Site Development, Analysis, and Demonstration begins closer to the end of FY 2006 and goes through FY 2011. This phase is further broken down into three activities, or 'stages,' within that timeframe: The ICM Pioneer Site Concept of Operations and Requirements is to occur in FY 2007; Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation of Selected Sites is to occur in FY 2008; and Pioneer Site Demonstration Projects and Evaluation is to occur in FY 2009. Phase 4: ICM Outreach and Knowledge and Technology Transfer begins in early FY 2006 and goes through FY 2011. Finally, Standards Completion and Deployment spans the whole time period, FY 2006-2011.

Brian Cronin is the ICM program manager for USDOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the congestion program coordinator for the ITS JPO. He is JPO's lead representative to USDOT's Congestion Initiative. He also is the technical representative for the Montgomery County, MD, and San Antonio, TX, pioneer sites. He has worked in the field of transportation and ITS technologies for 13 years.

Steve Mortensen is a senior ITS engineer with FTA's Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation. He supports the ICM Initiative, "Congestion Initiative," Transit Operations Decisions Support System Demonstration, and other transit ITS projects. He has worked in the field of transportation and ITS technologies for 14 years and is the technical representative for the pioneer sites in Dallas, TX; Oakland, CA; and San Diego, CA.

Dale Thompson is a transportation research specialist in the FHWA Office of Operations Research and Development, and he has been working in transportation operations for 20 years. As FHWA's ICM research coordinator, he is responsible for leading the ICM research in technical integration, ICM decision support systems, surveillance and detection, modeling and simulation analysis, and systems engineering support. He is the technical representative for the pioneer sites in Houston, TX; Minneapolis, MN; and Seattle, WA.

Visit the ICM Web site at to learn more about upcoming ICM KTT resources and events, sign up to receive the ICM newsletter, or bookmark the ICM Knowledgebase. For more information, contact Brian Cronin at 202-366-8841 or, Steve Mortensen at 202-493-0459 or, or Dale Thompson at 202-493-3420 or