Designing for Transportation Management and Operations: A Primer



This primer is focused on designing for operations; i.e., the collaborative and systematic consideration of TSM&O during transportation project design and development. Effectively designing for operations involves the development and application of design policies, procedures, and strategies that support transportation management and operations.

Successful integration of TSM&O considerations into the design process means that:

  • Roadway and transit system infrastructure is designed to facilitate the needs of day-to-day system management and operations and meet transportation system performance targets for efficiency, reliability, travel options, and safety.
  • ITS deployments are designed using systems engineering, and existing and future operational uses of ITS are incorporated into transportation facility design.
  • Operational strategies are considered as credible alternatives to infrastructure expansion during project design.
  • The relatively low-cost, high-impact, and flexible nature (i.e., scalable to changing demands) of TSM&O strategies makes them attractive deployment options.

Advantages of incorporating operations into traditional design processes include:

  • Increasing the benefits derived from a given infrastructure investment.
  • Designing a safer facility for users, emergency responders, maintenance staff, and other operators.
  • Designing for future work zones so that road users experience less interruption.
  • Reducing the costs for future operational and ITS deployments.
  • Reducing congestion and improving travel time reliability.

The primer specifically addresses policies and procedures associated with designing for operations, a toolbox of specific design considerations to support TSM&O strategies, and examples of effective strategies in practice.

Source Organization Location

Washington, DC

Operations Area of Practice

  • Active Traffic Management (ATM)
  • Corridor and Arterial Traffic Management
  • Freeway Management
  • Pricing / Toll Roads
  • Roadway Geometric Design
  • Interagency Agreements / Cooperation / MOUs
  • Emergency Transportation Operations
  • Traffic Incident Management
  • Work Zone Management
  • Freight Management
  • Freight Technology and Operations

Organizational Capability Element

  • Project Development
  • Active Traffic Management/Travel Demand Management/Pricing
  • Arterial Traffic Control Device Operations
  • Emergency Transportation Operations
  • Freeway Operations
  • Freight Management Operations
  • Roadway Geometric Design
  • Traffic Incident Management
  • Work Zone Management
  • Local government/MPO/RTPA cooperation

Content Type

  • Informational Product

Role in Organization

  • Director / Program Manager
  • Engineer
  • Principal Engineer
  • Senior Engineer
  • Senior Manager

Publishing Organization

  • FHWA

Maturity Level of Program

  • Assessment (L1)
  • Deployment (L3)
  • Development (L2)
  • Monitoring (L4)


  • Available Tools
  • How-To
  • Learning

Document Downloads

Project Website

Designing for Transportation Management and Operations: A Primer

Prime Contractor
SAIC (Gannett Fleming)
Jennifer Atkinson, Jocelyn Bauer, Kevin Hunt, Keith Mulliins, and Eric Rensel
Issue Date
February 1st, 2013
Publication Number
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