Operational & Management Strategies
This section of the Macon Area Transportation Study (MATS) 2040 LRTP Update provides an overview of the Operational and Management Strategies (OMS) recognized by MATS to improve the performance of existing transportation facilities in order to increase the safety and mobility of pedestrians and to relieve traffic congestion. OMS are important because they reflect the safe and efficient use of existing facilities, thereby mitigating the need for construction of new or expanded infrastructure. The following sections discuss a variety of OMS, specifically:
- Intelligent Transportation Systems;
- Incident Management; and
- Transportation Asset Management.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are the application of advanced computer, electronic, and communication technologies used in an integrated manner to increase the safety and efficiency of the transportation network. Road and highway conditions can change suddenly and traffic delays can result from accidents, bad weather and broken down vehicles.
The Transportation Management Center (TMC), based in Atlanta, is an important part of the Intelligent Transportation Systems in Georgia. TMC covers the entire Interstate system throughout Georgia (including for the MATS area), enhancing travel safety and efficiency by monitoring incidents, controlling traffic and providing information through the following activities:
- TMC collects important information from closed circuit television cameras and video detection systems located along Interstates, providing “at the moment” reporting on speeds, vehicle volumes, traffic congestion and accidents;
- TMC confirms problems, establishes the cause, and analyzes the effect it will have on traffic. TMC also contacts the appropriate department to respond to the situation.
- TMC notifies travelers on affected Interstate segments via Changeable Message Signs. These signs relay updated information such as travel times and incident messages.
In addition to these reactive measures, there is a traffic information phone service (Georgia 511) that provides free travel information, allowing travelers to report an accident and to receive current traffic reports. Georgia 511 is an advanced phone service that provides assistance 24 hours a day. Travelers can use the phone system to do the following:
- Receive road construction or closure information
- Obtain estimated trip times
- Report a traffic accident or road hazard
- Receive road traffic conditions
- Obtain route specific information
Georgia 511 also provides information on the following:
- Transit service in the area
- Tourism information
- Rideshare information
- Travel Planning
- Air quality conditions
In addition to calling, the Georgia 511 website (www.511ga.org) provides real-time traveler information current travel conditions for roadways in the MATS area including:
- Weather conditions
- Location and scope of active road construction activities on Interstate and State highways
- Alerts and special events which might impact traffic flow (e.g., a parade shutting down a particular part of a State route)
Drivercan also sign up for e-mail alerts to their mobile devices from the Georgia 511 system, which pushes travel updates to subscribers as they become available. These roadside ITS technologies allow the website to provide travelers with real time information on trip times, travel alerts, congestion levels and traffic accident locations. This information helps drivers dynamically optimize their route choices, which reduces the congestion levels on the regional road network.
Incident management deals with stalled vehicles, traffic accidents, roadway debris and spilled loads. A portion of traffic congestion is due to vehicle crashes or incidents but in some cases, the initial incident can be minor. However, there is also an increased risk of secondary crashes that result from a primary crash or incident. Subsequently, the secondary crash caused by the initial incident may be even more severe than the primary crash.
Improved incident management can increase the safety of the transportation system. The incident management program was initiated to develop and sustain a method to facilitate the safe and fast clearance of roadway incidents, thereby lessening the impact on emergency vehicles and the traveling public. Georgia DOT strives to improve incident response across the entire state. For the MATS area, the GDOT incident management program is the Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program (CHAMP).
CHAMP was established as a result of the Georgia Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (GTFA: see Ch. 8: Fiscal Assessment for more details). CHAMP patrols Interstate segments outside the metropolitan Atlanta region, with the exception of I-59 and I-24 (neither of which are in the MATS service area). CHAMP has three main functions: roadway maintenance, motorist assistance, and emergency response. Their specific tasks include:
- Provide quick response to maintenance issues and enhance proactive major maintenance by providing immediate district notification about bridge/roadway damage, signs down, markings missing, signal malfunction, commercial vehicle crashes and spills and other major maintenance concerns.
- Provide immediate resolution for minor maintenance needs such as vegetation issues, blocked drainage and debris removal (including abandoned or disabled vehicles).
- Offer motorist assistance and temporary traffic control, which helps to reduce secondary incidents and increase responder safety.
- As an on-scene incident responder, assist with emergency response and provide roadway clearance and coordinate long-term traffic control and traveler information.
- Detect, verify, report and provide assistance on traffic incidents to ensure safe, quick clearance on interstates outside of Metro Atlanta AND on non-interstate state routes within 10 miles on either side of interstates, when requested.
- Maintain and/or improve safe and efficient traffic flow.
- Assist the Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies.
- Identify, verify and report maintenance issues and/or property damage to infrastructure to GDOT, TMC, and District staff.
CHAMP operates 7 days a week, 16 hours each day, with the remaining 8 hours covered on an “on-call” basis. CHAMP operators patrol a 50-mile section of Interstate highway during an 8-hour shift. In the MATS area, there are three active vehicles patrolling from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily for the following routes;
- South on I-475 to the I-75 merge, then returning North on I-75 to the I-475/I-75 merge in Monroe County;
- East on I-16 from the I-75/I-16 out to the 50 mile limit, then returning West along I-16
- North from the I-475/I-75 merge to Exit 216 in Henry County, then returning South on I-75 back down to the I-475/I-75 merge (i.e., serving Monroe County, mostly outside the MATS area)
CHAMP patrols use one driver in a Ford F-250 pick-up truck on each route. In the event that an incident is beyond the capacity of a single patrol vehicle to respond, CHAMP operators in the MATS area contact the GDOT District 3 office located in Thomaston (outside the MATS area) for dispatch of additional maintenance personnel.
Transportation Asset Management
Transportation Asset Management (TAM) is a comprehensive, integrated and systematic method for cost effectively managing physical transportation assets through the use of strategic goals, performance measures and data. TAM is a simple concept which involves the preservation of transportation assets by strategically anticipating and reacting to problems before they occur rather than afterward. The most obvious example is the consistent prioritization and application of routine repairs to extend the life of existing infrastructure, rather than expensive asset replacement due to foregone maintenance.
An effective Transportation Asset Management (TAM) program requires the coordination of three factors; strategic planning, asset management, and performance management. Strategic planning identifies and documents goals and objectives. In addition, it also identifies short-term business strategies and sets the direction. Asset management focuses on extending the life-cycle of an existing asset, using data in order to make informed decisions and encourages collaboration and coordination. Performance measures help to set performance management and targets based on objectives. It also helps to determine if progress is being made towards identified goals, and guides decisions in making adjustments. See Chapter 2, Table 2-1 for a detailed discussion on LRTP Goals and Objectives and Performance Measures as they related to TAM.
The TAM principles currently adopted by GDOT for pavements, bridges, and signs can be found in the 2014-2018 Transportation Asset Management Plan. For pavement management, risk factors such as average daily traffic and truck traffic percentage are used along with the Computerized Pavements Condition Evaluation Systems to guide decisions regarding roadway improvements. Figure 5-1 shows the locations in Bibb, Jones and Monroe Counties where GDOT traffic demand sensors are permanently located to collect vehicle counts (both total vehicles, and truck counts).
TAM is an important method to determine how to invest funding (and prioritize maintenance) for transportation projects. Preventive maintenance on assets will reduce life cycle costs and improve travel conditions, safety and reliability, resulting in an overall better-managed transportation system.
 For full document, see http://www.tamptemplate.org/wp-content/uploads/tamps/005_georgiadot-2.pdf