Road Network Operations
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Traffic Management Plans

A Traffic Management Plan (TMP) provides for the allocation of traffic control and information measures in response to a specific, pre-defined traffic scenario – such as the management of peak holiday traffic or the closure of strategic route because of bad weather, maintenance or a serious road accident. The objective is to anticipate the arrangements for controlling and guiding traffic flows in real-time and for informing road-users about the traffic situation in a consistent and timely way.

The plans, which will differ in detail according to local circumstances, apply in the following cases:

  • major traffic accidents
  • very heavy traffic
  • extreme weather conditions
  • natural or technological catastrophes
  • special events (sports, cultural, leisure) resulting in unusually high traffic volumes, capacity constraints or a major displacement of road users

TMPs do not solve all traffic problems but lessen the consequences. They improve coordination and cooperation between partners and facilitate the establishment of mutual agreements on the operational requirements.

A TMP will optimise the use of existing traffic infrastructure capacity in response to a given situation and provide a platform for a cross-regional and cross-border seamless service that provides consistent information for the road user. The situations covered can be unforeseeable (incidents, accidents) or predictable (recurrent or non-recurrent events). The measures are always applied on a temporary basis – although “temporary” may be lengthy, such as a construction or long-term maintenance activity.

TMPs define and formalise:

  • decision-making and coordination
  • driver and traveller information
  • the coordination of traffic management and road information measures

The purpose of this approach is to limit the effects of events that can lead to serious deterioration of traffic conditions and to enhance road safety. The objective is coordinated action by the various authorities and services that participate in the operation of the roadway.

TMPs can be developed for corridors and networks with the aim of delivering effective traffic control, route guidance and information measures to the road user. An improvement in overall performance is possible by securing effective collaboration and coordination between the organisations directly involved. By strengthening cooperation and mutual understanding a more integrated approach will be achieved to the development, deployment and quality control of traffic management measures. (See  TCC Functions, Urban Operations and Highway Operations  )

Four geographic levels can be considered for the elaboration of Traffic Management Plans:

  • Regional TMPs: for networks within areas or regions that can be extended, under certain conditions, to link with neighbouring regions for cross-regional and cross-border levels
  • Cross-regional TMPs: for wide-area networks and key corridors covering multiple regions (sometimes an entire country)
  • Cross-border TMPs: for cross-border networks and key corridors between different counties or states / provinces within a large country
  • Conurbation TMPs: for cities and the associated regional highway networks serving long-distance through / transit traffic

Multiple level TMPs, if properly developed, will provide for various traffic situations in a timely and effective manner.

The implementation of TMPs eases roadway disruptions even if the initial event and its consequences are slightly different from the scenarios adopted for the TMP. When a TMP is put into practice the introduction of measures not included in the plan can be initiated by the operator – provided that the new measures are consistent with the spirit of the plan, after agreement with the coordinating authority. Common terminology and an agreed referencing system for key locations are essential for all stakeholders to understand each other clearly. It is essential that everyone has access to the most up-to-date version of the TMP, making version control very important. The wide distribution of TMP documents can lead to different parties working to different versions but this can be avoided if the current versions are held on-line in a virtual library.

Advice to Practitioners

TMPs are produced from historic analysis and a consideration of potential operating measures and agreements between all future partners and stakeholders. After a TMP has been activated and the situation returns to normal, feedback from the experience will help improve the effectiveness or performance of future activations.

The objective of systematic feedback – often called “after-action” analysis – is to enhance the effectiveness of an operating plan or action and optimise use of resources. Past situations are used to review organisational factors, event planning procedures and detailed incident response plans.

To secure feedback to the required level the following measures are recommended:

  • during response to the event or crisis: store as much information as possible by keeping logs
  • after responding to the event or crisis: assemble all the stakeholders to compare experiences and analyse a player’s response to the event or crisis (schedules, time-lines, methods, systems)
  • check the clarity and applicability of instructions
  • check the respective roles of the traffic control centre, traffic police and emergency services and verify the exchanges between them all
  • define changes to be made to plans, response sheets
  • prepare an after-action report summarising the findings and recommendations of the stakeholder meeting(s)
  • ensure that follow-up action is completed

Organising and using feedback is especially important where the operational plan or measure implemented has not previously been applied in a wide-scale exercise or test.


Reference sources

EasyWay ITS Deployment Guideline TMS-DG07 Traffic Management Plan Service for Corridors and Networks (2015) Available for download at: