Transportation Operations


In January 2013, CDOT created the Division of Transportation System Management & Operations (TSM&O). Shortly thereafter, in March 2013, the Division started collaborating with numerous stakeholders across CDOT business areas to. Their goals:

  • Evaluate the condition of statewide operations; and
  • Recommend measures to improve and enhance the delivery of operations statewide.

The Reorganization Report

This effort resulted in the TSM&O Reorganization Report, which was approved by CDOT executive management in July 2013. The report recommended certain organizational, programmatic, and strategic and policy changes to realign, consolidate and delineate operational activities within core operational areas. The goal was to accomplish systematic and coordinated delivery of statewide operations.

Following this, the Division assessed staffing needs to ensure the Division could meet strategic business objectives. The group considered existing and future duties, as well as resource requirements. As a result, the Division made organizational changes and realigned several duties commensurate with recommendations in the TSM&O Reorganization Report to prioritize and focus limited resources.

Performance & Measures Report

Most recently, the Division completed a TSM&O Performance Measures Report that identified metrics to quantify benefits related to operational improvements. The Performance Measures Report also identified data items needed to compute the metric, and availability of the data. It also prioritized the metrics among the TSM&O branches based on a priority-parameter schema.

The Division is currently producing a monthly performance measures report based on metrics identified in the TSM&O Performance Measures Report. At the same time, the Division developed the Statewide Transportation System Management & Operations Plan. The Plan identifies goals and objectives, priority corridors, programmatic core operational areas, strategic initiatives and processes to facilitate systematic delivery of statewide operations. The Plan explains how operations is integrated within the context of the 2040 Statewide Transportation Plan, and provides the framework to develop TSM&O region implementation plans to support integrated and coordinated regional operations implementation.

Operation's Division Objective

During a time when construction dollars are stagnant and the ability to construct large-scale capacity projects is becoming more and more challenging nationwide, DOTs must be more economical, efficient and effective with limited resources. Implementing low-cost, high-value improvements can provide tremendous benefit to the system and demonstrate state government's ability to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

These operational improvements are often available in the near term and focus on getting more out of the existing system, and maximizing traffic through-put. A multitude of strategies can be utilized to target issues that cause congestion to minimize their impact, thereby allowing the system to operate at the highest capability.

Typically, the congestion these improvements are targeting can be grouped into two types:

  1. Recurring congestion is the daily, predictable congestion due to high, peak-period traffic volumes, bottlenecks and poor signal timing—as seen in metro areas with daily commuting, or on I-70 on weekends due to high-volume recreational travel in the mountains.
  2. Non-recurring congestion is the unplanned, unpredicted congestion due to incidents like weather, crashes, work zones and special events. More than half of congestion (55% in urban areas and 95% in rural areas) can be attributed to these non-recurring events.

Even though these incidents may occur infrequently, their impact is significant when they do occur. CDOT currently uses many techniques, adopted nationwide, to control and reduce congestion of both types. Examples of these strategies include:

  • traffic signal timing
  • ramp metering
  • alternative intersection and interchange designs
  • traffic incident management planning
  • travel time information
  • variable speed limits
  • traffic metering
  • HOV and managed lanes
  • truck management and parking

Integrating Operations into a Statewide System

While CDOT is utilizing these strategies throughout the state, what was missing was the Statewide TSM&O Plan, which provides a unified approach to integrate operations into statewide and regional planning processes so that operations strategies can be delivered statewide in a systematic and coordinated manner. Concurrently with the development of the TSM&O documents identified above, the Division has been working closely with CDOT regions and other stakeholders to implement low-cost high-value operational improvements such as:

  • enhanced continuous flow metering (east approach to Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels)
  • enhanced courtesy patrol operations
  • bottleneck mitigation

The Division is also working to implement innovative technologies such as big data and analytics, and connected vehicles, which provide immense opportunity to fundamentally transform and improve operations. At the same time, the Division has initiated an operations clearance process and developed guidance to support a Managed Lanes Policy Directive.

These efforts ensure that operations will be conscientiously considered at the earliest stages and throughout the project development process. The purpose and objective of these TSM&O efforts is to systematically improve travel-time reliability and safety on the transportation system by implementing low-cost operational improvements that maximize transportation operations, and provide very high value and benefits to users. Learn more about CDOT's Operations Division