Research Archive

The Transportation Problem

Congestion on our nation's transportation network poses a major threat to economic prosperity and our citizens' quality of life. In 2007, Americans lost an estimated 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons of fuel as a result of traffic congestion alone, at a cost of $87.2 billion in wasted fuel and lost productivity.

A variable speed limit sign on I-4 in Orlando, Florida showing a speed limit of 55 mph.

The ITS Opportunity image of variable speed limit sign

Advancements in ITS have greatly improved the strategy and technological capabilities related to congestion mitigation and avoidance. While the tolling, transit, telecommuting and ITS have served for years in many of America's metropolitan areas, the primary purpose of the Congestion Initiative is to demonstrate the effectiveness of deploying these strategies in combination, not isolation. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) launched the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network - known as the "Congestion Initiative." This Departmental endeavor serves as a blueprint for federal, state, and local officials to address needs resulting from congestion in their localities. Two elements of the Congestion Initiative are the Urban Partnership Agreements (UPA) program and follow-on Congestion Reduction Demonstration (CRD).

Dynamic Pricing A dynamic message above a highway in Minnesota listing dynamic pricing for high occupancy tolls (HOT) lanes. The rate to route 100 is shown at $0.25 and the rate to Route 94 is shown at $0.25. Car pools, buses, and motorcycles are free.

Research Approach

From 2007 to 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded grants to several metropolitan areas (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Francisco, and Seattle) for implementation of congestion reduction strategies under the Urban Partnership Agreements and Congestion Reduction Demonstration programs.

Information about the Congestion Initiative is managed by the Federal Highway Administration on the Urban Partnership Agreement and Congestion Reduction Demonstration Programs website.