Mode-Specific Research
Active Transportation and Demand Management


Active Transportation and Demand Management (ATDM) is market-ready technologies and innovative operational approaches for managing traffic congestion within the existing infrastructure.  The vision for Active Transportation and Demand Management research is to allow transportation agencies to increase traffic flow, improve travel time reliability, and optimize available capacity throughout the transportation network.

Research Goals

The research goals of the ATDM program are to:

  • Identify the state-of-the-art/state-of-the-practice
  • Provide recommendations that bridge gaps through research

Research Questions

Questions that the ATDM program is designed to answer are:

  • What are the performance targets, operational constraints, and business rules required to support active traffic management?
  • When should ATDM strategies be enabled and disabled?
  • What are the impacts on the transportation facility and system?
  • What modifications to existing simulation models are needed to accurately model the ATDM at different levels of control?
  • How do we improve the planning models to include ATDM?

Research Approach

ADTM offers significant potential for reducing freeway congestion without the need for building additional lanes or infrastructure. By using real-time information and technologies, transportation managers can optimize available capacity, increase traffic flow, improve travel time reliability, decrease primary/secondary incidents, and improve the uniformity of driver behavior.

The program builds upon existing research to establish an operational concept and analyze enabling technologies. Due to the deployment of innovative ATDM practices in countries outside the U.S., the program will incorporate an assessment of existing international efforts and realized benefits.

Although there are several efforts underway, there is no cohesive effort to bring the results from these projects together to provide actionable guidance, algorithms, models, or requirements. A need exists to develop a research test environment that would include a simulation test bed, data test bed, and model deployment evaluation to bring the existing research efforts together.

An existing effort to develop the ATDM Concept will provide basic foundational research and directly contribute to furthering ATDM. Preliminary results indicate that current technological research in algorithms, decision support systems, real-time modeling, data needs, and system impact from ATDM is still limited. As a result, the initial program efforts will focus on addressing system engineering issues and basic technology and data gaps. The program will pursue research along several tracks:

  • Track 1: Finalize the development of an ATDM Concept of Operations.
  • Track 2: Identify the requirements necessary to support the Concept of Operations.
  • Track 3: Develop algorithms, rules, and processing software based on requirements.
  • Track 4: Produce real-time data needed for ATDM application, which will include identifying the necessary fidelity and granularity. Examine data from various sources; for example, from fixed and mobile sensing technologies.
  • Track 5: Create and evaluate a simulation test bed that can reveal potential ATDM benefits.
  • Track 6: Fully scope an operational test and evaluation of the benefits of combining variable speed limits (VSL) and automated speed enforcement (ASE) technology, which are two promising ATDM strategies.

Research Outcomes

The ATDM research program will assist transportation agencies in moving from monitoring and responding to congestion problems to an operational strategy that influences traffic flow rates, capacity, and demand throughout the transportation network. The Concept of Operations this program establishes leads to the development of performance criteria and traffic management techniques that safely optimizes the flow of traffic.

By deploying market-ready technologies and strategies an agency can evolve from monitoring and responding to congestion problems to an operational strategy that manipulates flow rates, capacity, and demand throughout the network.



Brian Cronin
Team Lead, Research and Demonstration
ITS Joint Program Office
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
(202) 366-8841

Robert Sheehan
Transportation Specialist
Office of Transportation Management
Federal Highway Administration
(202) 366-6817


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