Coordinated Incident and Congestion Management: Mitigating Impacts of Major Traffic Incidents in the Seattle I-5 Corridor

Within the Seattle major metropolitan area, multi-jurisdictional and coordinated traffic incident management (TIM) operations detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents to restore traffic flow quickly and safely. However, there is a need to extend TIM operations to include congestion management (CM), which involves managing incident-generated congestion and mitigating regional impacts after an incident has been cleared. In comparison to TIM operations alone, CM involves a wider, more-diverse group of stakeholders and covers a greater portion of the freeway, as well as interconnected arterials and alternative modes of transportation, as well as the people, facilities, and services that rely on that infrastructure for mobility.

This project identified challenges and opportunities for enhancing regional TIM by including the management of major incidents along the Seattle I-5 corridor, supported by innovative technologies. To do that, the researchers engaged regional TIM and CM stakeholders in a series of iterative scoping and participatory design activities.  Those activities helped the researchers identify and review relevant policies and model the current TIM and CM processes and procedures. They used the current model to help stakeholders in identifying present points of difficulty and opportunities for system enhancement, and in articulating desired interventions that would be possible through innovative applications of emerging technology. The research team also worked with regional stakeholders on non-technical aspects of potential system enhancements, such as issues of adoption, stakeholder buy-in, and policy and structural implications.

From regular working group meetings the research team elicited ideas for a charter Seattle Area Congestion Management Joint Operations Group (SAJOG). They also developed strategies for communicating with on-road drivers, for affecting future driver behavior, and for proactive data collection and sharing. As a result, they developed several recommendations for enhancing regional TIM to incorporate CM. Those included creating an appropriate TIM-CM joint operations command structure, enhancing the information-sharing environment across the TIM and CM processes, and gathering further insight into current Seattle commuter behaviors and preferences.

This project will promote public safety and save time and resources by collaboratively developing enhancements to the region’s TIM system, assuring that those enhancements are desired, cost-effective, and sustainable. The enhancements will also promote the safety of first responders and will improve the efficacy and coordinated efforts of multiple agencies engaged in incident response and related services.

WA-RD 878.1

Mark Haselkorn
Sarah Yancey
Sonia Savelli
Center for Collaborative Systems for Security, Safety and Regional Resilience
UW Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering

Sponsor: WSDOT
WSDOT Technical Monitor: Ron Vessey
WSDOT Project Manager: Doug Brodin