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NOCoE News February 21, 2019: I-85 Bridge Rebuild Case Study and New FHWA TSMO Resources

February 21, 2019

TSMO Focused Response to
the I-85 Bridge Collapse and Rebuild in Georgia

by Patrick Son, Managing Director
In the response to natural or man-made disasters, TSMO can often be the unsung hero. During a disaster, the immediate focus is on those directly impacted by the event, and rightly so, but what I continue to hear from all of you is that during these times TSMO becomes a critical component in both the immediate and long-term response and rebuild efforts.

Such was the case with the I-85 bridge collapse and rebuild that occurred in Atlanta, GA in March 2017. We connected with the TSMO practitioners in Georgia to find out what key actions they took to ensure an effective and safe response and to hear what they learned from previous experiences, such as the I-285 airplane crash and Hurricane Matthew. Strategies critical to their successful response included: inter-agency collaboration, active traffic management, and traveler information as well as the active emergency response and traffic incident management (TIM) efforts deployed during and after the event. Additionally, the I-85 Bridge carries over 240,000 vehicles per day, so to get it rebuilt as soon and safely as possible, the governor accelerated repair through an incentive program.

The unsung hero in their case, in my opinion, is Georgia’s telecommunications network. The redundancy designed and built into the system allowed the traffic management system, in particular the camera feeds, to be quickly restored. We all know the value of designing and implementing our systems properly, it’s nice to know that when the disasters come, our system works and responds as planned.

NOCoE Case Studies:
Sharing TSMO Practices to Save Lives, Time, and Money

Georgia DOT: I-85 Bridge Collapse and Rebuild


On March 30, 2017, a massive fire caused a section of Interstate 85 (I-85) in Atlanta to collapse. After the fire was extinguished, it was determined that 700 feet of both the northbound and southbound lanes required demolition and reconstruction, resulting in the closure of a critical stretch of highway which normally carries 243,000 vehicles per day.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire and collapse and during the six weeks that followed, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and associated agencies carried out a number of successful strategies to provide the traveling public with safe and reliable travel alternatives, many of them within the discipline of transportation systems management and operations (TSMO). Due to these efforts, as well as the leadership decisions of the department and state government, the bridge was rebuilt within just six weeks of collapse, more than a month ahead of schedule.

TSMO strategies deployed included:

  • Emergency Response and Traffic Incident Management
  • Inter-agency Collaboration
  • Active Traffic Management
  • Knowledge Transfer
  • Traveler Information
  • Telecommunications


With over 240,000 vehicles per day affected by the bridge collapse, the building of a new bridge was extremely important to the overall regional transportation system. In response to this need, the governor created a $3.1 million incentives program.

Initially, GDOT announced a reopening of the highway by June 15. However, with the encouragement of the governor, GDOT approached the contractor and offered a $1.5 million bonus for opening the road by May 25, a $2 million bonus for opening by May 21, and an additional $200,000 for each day it’s open before May 21, up to a max of $3.1 million. The incentive program allowed the contractor to deploy teams 24 hours a day resulting in a reopening of the roadway by May 12, more than a month ahead of schedule. This accelerated timeline was estimated to have saved Georgia travelers $27 million in lost time and productivity.

Talking TIM Webinar Series

March 19, 2019 | 1:00pm - 2:30pm ET | Register

The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) will be hosting a new webinar series from The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on traffic incident management (TIM).

The first in the series will focus on business cases and take place on Tuesday, March 19 at 1pm ET. The webinar will discuss:
  • New Business Case Concepts for TIM
  • TIM data through the Regional Integrated Transportation Information System (RITIS) platform
  • The Oregon TIM Program featuring Push, Pull, and Drag
Speakers include:
  • Paul Jodoin, FHWA TIM Program Manager
  • Michael Pack, Director, University of Maryland, CATT Lab
  • Justin Guinan, Oregon DOT TIM Program Manager
For more information on the webinar and registration is available here.

Broadening the TSMO Context:
New FHWA Resources Showcase TSMO’s Contribution to Enhancing Transportation and Community Services

by Jim Hunt, Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations
The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Operations has developed several recent products that aim to raise awareness of the value of Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and how TSMO can support and enhance other programs and initiatives. New resources include: In addition, FHWA released a compendium of examples of where a agencies and institutions have employed the use of incentives and behavioral economic approaches to help travelers consider alternate modes, departure times, or routes to improve transportation system performance.
  1. Expanding Traveler Choices through the Use of Incentives: A Compendium of Examples
A brief description of these products is provided below.
Advancing TSMO: Making the Business Case for Institutional, Organizational, and Procedural Changes TSMO

This report presents a key opportunity for transportation agencies today and many agencies have recently been making a significant effort to better leverage TSMO to improve system performance in a cost effective way. This guide explores how a transportation agency's established Institutional, Organizational, and Procedural (IOP) "way of doing business" can be changed to reduce barriers and increase capabilities for effective TSMO through the development of a business case for TSMO IOP.
TSMO Fact Sheet Series. Communicating the Role and Value of TSMO to Other Programs

Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) often supports, impacts, or otherwise relates to other State and local transportation agency functions and offices such as design, maintenance, and safety. TSMO and these other disciplines can be carried out more effectively if the connections between these areas are strengthened. To provide context for these potential connections, the Office of Operations developed 9 Fact Sheets, each one illustrating TSMO's connection to another program.

Visit all fact sheets.
TSMO in Smart, Connected, Communities

Smart, connected communities enable those living, working, or traveling in these areas to realize improved quality of life by taking advantage of innovative technologies and collaborative institutional arrangements that facilitate extensive real-time data sharing, effective communications, and evidence-based decision making. This primer describes the key characteristics of smart, connected communities and how they can benefit from closer collaboration with Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and how TSMO can benefit from these collaborations. The primer explains TSMO and provides several examples of what TSMO might look like in a smart, connected community.

Visit the resource page.
Expanding Traveler Choices Through the Use of Incentives: A Compendium of Examples

With increased congestion across the Nation’s roadways, transportation agencies and others are testing new approaches and implementing programs to cause travelers to shift their behavior to alleviate congestion. Using behavioral economic theories, agencies have provided different incentives to promote behavioral changes from travelers to shift modes, times of travel, or routes taken before and during their trips. This primer looks at different programs across the world to see how organizations have tackled congestion with these strategies.

Visit the resource page.

TSMO in Action: Inaugural TSMO Awards Highlight
Changes In How We Approach Transportation Challenges

The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) recently held the inaugural Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Awards to highlight how agencies across the country are using TSMO and an operations focused approach to save lives, time, and money on our nation’s roadways. With 60 submissions, agencies demonstrated that TSMO has arrived as a dominant method of tackling major transportation challenges and providing alternative methods of tackling congestion and safety needs. Each category award winner was celebrated at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting, including the selection of North Carolina DOT as the recipient of the Overall TSMO Award. Additionally, each of 60 submissions will be turned into case studies to share this unique and valuable knowledge with the broader transportation community.

About the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE)

The mission of NOCoE is to empower the transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) community to succeed by building its knowledge, skills and abilities and to connect them with best-practices and experts to save lives, time and money. Born of a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), we serve those in state departments of transportation, regional planning organizations, municipalities, local agencies as well as private sector organizations.

For more information, please visit
Contact Us
National Operations Center of Excellence
444 North Capitol Street, NW Suite 226
Washington, DC 20001
Ph: 202.624.5478

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