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Addressing the Nation’s Transportation Challenges with Transportation Systems Management and Operations
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    The role of transportation agencies, especially state departments of transportation, has evolved over the past few decades in response to the also changing realities (funding, space/environment, recognition that one-sizefits-all solution of adding lanes is not efficient or effective—some problems call for other solutions). Initially, state department of transportation (DOTs) focused on building and preserving their transportation infrastructure in order to connect regions and states and to provide greater user mobility. And while transportation agencies are still building transportation infrastructure, it is true the nation cannot build its way out of the transportation challenges we face in areas such as safety, reliability, congestion, physical constraints, environmental concerns, and funding limitations. To better combat these issues in a cost-effective way, state DOTs are implementing Transportation Systems Management and Operations (known to many as simply “Operations” or “TSMO”), which can save lives, time, and money while improving quality of life for the traveling public. TSMO is a set of strategies, services, and programs that focus on operational improvements and overall system management to more efficiently and safely move people and goods. Through use of TSMO, an agency may be able to maintain and even restore the performance of the existing transportation system, thus deferring, or even eliminating, the need for some capacity expansion projects. The goal is to get the most performance out of the transportation facilities a state DOT already has. This requires knowledge, skills, and techniques to administer comprehensive solutions that can be quickly implemented at relatively low cost. This may enable transportation agencies to “stretch” their funding to benefit more areas and customers. These strategies also help agencies balance supply and demand and provide flexible solutions to match changing conditions.
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