Mainstreaming Integrated Corridor Management: An Executive Level Primer


In contrast to the traditional approach of independently managing your own assets and systems, Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) represents a proactive, integrated approach for transportation operations agencies to manage the supply and demand in the presence of atypical events or conditions within a multimodal corridor. ICM improves regional and corridor response - by integrating existing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) devices, systems, and assets controlled and operated by multiple agencies with multiple stakeholders, to create proactive solutions for managing demand and capacity across modes in each corridor. ICM is defined as "an approach designed to actively monitor, assess, and respond to atypical recurring and nonrecurring events that impact traffic on the most visibly congested highways or freeways that define a corridor."1 ICM requires the institutional, operational, and technical integration of as many participating agencies as are available to combine their assets into one unified real-time response.

ICM is typically implemented through a system, called an integrated corridor management system (ICMS) with a decision support system (DSS) that monitors traffic conditions in the corridor, looking for atypical anomalies in traffic patterns or significant events that substantially change the traffic situation. When triggered by such conditions, the DSS will model alternative solutions (composed of multiple strategies that stakeholders have agreed could be implemented by the different agencies) as compared to the "do-nothing" alternative. If the alternative solutions are predicted to be significantly better than the "do-nothing" alternative, the solution with the best outcome is recommended for approval by an ICMS operator(s) or coordinator and instituted in real-time. The strategies that the DSS evaluates have been pre-approved and agreed to by the individual agencies and reflect the business rules that the DSS is programmed to evaluate. The DSS then continues to monitor network conditions after the response plan is implemented to determine if it is working or further adjustments are needed.

This primer provides background on the concept of ICM and discusses the characteristics of ICM as compared to traditional traffic management practices. The primer presents an overview of the federal ICM program as it evolved over the last decade and offers insight into the cities and agencies who participated in the program-sponsored ICM planning and deployment activities. The primer provides information on the motivation and business case to deploy ICM and offers readiness criteria for you to carefully consider prior to embarking on ICM implementation.

For agencies that are interested in implementing ICM, the primer presents material on how you can effectively integrate, or mainstream, ICM as part of your regional transportation business processes. For candidate regions, mainstreaming ICM as a part of the transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) activities is necessary for success over the long term.

Successful ICM within a region requires strong interagency and department commitment and involvement at all levels to incorporate ICM strategies and practices into regional operations and processes. Without an effort to mainstream ICM into today's transportation planning, system development, and operations practices, it will always remain a separate initiative within a region, not fully understood or supported, and underfunded. In addition, these separate ICM initiatives will likely lose momentum as staff changes occur and lack the necessary institutional and executive level support to fully realize the potential benefits.

Until recently, most ICM deployment and implementation planning activities were facilitated by federal grant money. Regardless of whether you secure grant money or other federal awards, further funding sources for operational improvements need to be applied to initiate, grow, and evolve your ICMS. The primer provides an overview of potential funding sources and offers resources for next steps if you want to find out more about ICM.

A listing of the best practices contained in this report for mainstreaming ICM are provided by topic in the table below. These best practices are expanded on in Chapter 4 of the primer.

Topic Best Practices for Mainstreaming ICM
Working with Multiple Transportation Agencies
  • Build on an existing collaborative group

  • Ensure that there is at least one committed champion

  • Establish lead coordinator

  • Organize and train staff

  • Achieve multiagency support

  • Gather support from elected or appointed officials and agency leadership

  • Engage participants

Transportation Planning Processes
  • Adopt ICM-centric transportation goals

  • Use Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Resources

  • Use Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation (AMS) tools to evaluate ICM

  • Incorporate ICM Strategies into Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO) Plans

  • Integrate ICM into Planning Meetings

  • Consider ICM Strategies in planning studies and alternatives analyses

  • Make ICM part of standard regional processes

Transportation Programming Processes
  • Include ICM in Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP)

  • Ensure that project selection procedures consider the impacts of ICM

  • Utilize federal funding opportunities for ICM projects

Project Development Processes
  • Plan for incremental deployment of your ICMS

  • Use the system engineering process

  • Use and update your regional ITS architecture

  • Recognize that ICM projects are like other ITS projects

Operations and Maintenance Activities
  • Include ICM components in ITS operations and maintenance contracts, technological refreshes, or equipment swap outs

  • Incorporate periodic ICM Management Systems (ICMS) into performance review meetings

  • Address ongoing ICMS operations and maintenance (O&M) roles and funding needs

Considerations for Decision Support Systems (DSS)
  • Develop your DSS incrementally

  • Consider the costs and resources needed for DSS

  • Harmonize the traffic modeling tools used

  • Consider new uses for enhanced traffic modeling capabilities

  • Use business rules agreed upon by stakeholders in the DSS

  • Use multimodal, corridor-level performance measures to drive decision-making

Funding ICM
  • Integrate ICM into your regional TSMO, ITS, and State and local short and long-range transportation and strategic plans

  • Integrate ICM into your department's programmatic, TSMO, and ITS budgets

  • Add ICM to larger project proposals for United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Discretionary Grant Programs

  • Remember to budget for long-term operations and maintenance

Operations Area of Practice

  • Corridor and Arterial Traffic Management

Organizational Capability Element

  • Integrated Corridor Management

Content Type

  • Informational Product

Publishing Organization

  • FHWA

Document Downloads

Project Website

Link on FHWA website

Issue Date
September 1st, 2019
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