Traffic Operations & Technology

 Operations Policy & Programs

Photo by Shane Chevalier, CDOT R1

The Operations Policy & Programs unit exists to provide traffic operations related input for transportation planning and project development to improve operations through multiple programs and projects.

Field Studies

School Zones - The Field Studies Team performs school studies for schools adjacent to state highways to determine if school zones and/or school signage are warranted. School Studies can be requested by schools and local government agencies through the local CDOT Region Traffic Engineer.

Speed Studies - The Field Studies Team performs speed studies on state highways to determine proper speed limits. Speed Studies are usually conducted after a highway has been reconstructed, or if a new development is having an impact on the highway. A speed study can be localized to small sections of state highways, or can be for longer sections of highway. Speed Studies can be requested by local government agencies through the local CDOT Region Traffic Engineer. Concerned citizens may request a speed study by working with their local government agencies. 

Other Services - The Field Studies Team also performs studies to determine safe speeds on curves of state highways. This type of study would be requested by local government agencies through the local CDOT Region Traffic Engineer. Concerned citizens may request a speed study by working with their local government agencies. 

CORA - Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) must be submitted through the CDOT CORA office. Please see the CDOT CORA website for more information and instructions: 

Colorado Model Traffic Code

Model Traffic Code for Colorado - Through the cooperative efforts of both state and local governments the “Model Traffic Code”, has been developed to make available a specimen set of uniform motor vehicle and traffic regulations that track state law.  Local governments that adopt the Code by reference are cautioned not to make any changes or additions which are in conflict with state law. However, the adopting local governments are at liberty to delete any parts, articles, or sections which are deemed to be inapplicable.

Managed Lane Guidelines

CDOT has established statewide guidelines for the evaluation of Managed Lanes. “Managed lanes” are defined as highway facilities or a set of lanes where operational strategies are proactively implemented and managed in response to changing conditions. The guidelines were developed in support Policy Directive 1603.0 which requires managed lanes to be strongly considered during the planning and development of capacity improvements on state highway facilities. Within the guidelines, an evaluation level tool is provided to identify the appropriate level of analyses in a documented and consistent manner. A toolbox of managed lane strategies and performance measure targets are also provided to aid the planning and decision-making process.

Traffic Forecasting and Analysis

CDOT has established guidelines to assist in the completion of traffic analysis and forecasting procedures on the State Highway System.  The guidelines provide for consistent analyses statewide and were developed through an examination of Colorado's lessons learned and best practices, state-of-practice reviews across the Country, and existing FHWA resources. The guidelines provide guidance for key topics such as measures of effectiveness, data collection, scoping, tool selection, and specific forecasting and analysis methodologies. The guidelines will serve as a living document which evolves with the state of practice and CDOT's needs.

Variable Speed Limits

Variable Speed Limits (VSL) are speed limits that change based on road, traffic, and weather conditions to better reflect a safe traveling speed. Demonstrated applications and benefits of variable speed limits include:

  • Flow-Based Operations - Smoother traffic flow and less delay by proactively managing speed on congested roadways.
  • Work Zone – Reduced speed so that vehicles approach construction areas and pass-through work zones at safer speeds.
  • Weather Based Operations - VSL systems during inclement weather improve safety by decreasing the risks associated with traveling at speeds that are higher than appropriate for the conditions.

In 2018 CDOT developed a Protocol and State of Practice and has followed that up with statewide VSL Guidelines, published in November 2023. The CDOT VSL Guidelines cover the entire lifecycle of a VSL project from inception, feasibility analysis, and planning to design, testing, and maintenance.

VSL corridors are being deployed with flow based and weather-based algorithms on the I-70 Corridor in Glenwood Canyon and on the I-70 Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lanes.  Additional corridors on Wolf Creek Pass, Westbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane, Eastbound I-70: Genesee to Wadsworth, and the I-25 GAP area are under consideration.

Operations Evaluation

The Operations Evaluation is a holistic approach that encourages stakeholders to consider safety, operations, and technology elements early and throughout the project life-cycle. It is a critical element in CDOT projects because it ensures that we are providing the best products and services possible to the traveling public. Key outcomes of the Operations Evaluation include:

  • Opportunities to improve safety and save lives
  • Support for the implementation and prioritization of innovative ideas to improve mobility
  • Increased value of taxpayer dollars by considering stakeholder needs prior to construction 

Over 350 Projects have initiated an Operations Evaluation since February 2016. In January 2021, CDOT developed the Operations Evaluation Web Tool which requests evaluations, tracks progress and recommendations, as well as evaluation documentation.