The congestion management process, or CMP, is a way of systematically considering congestion-related issues using a set of technical tools, and basing evaluations on a discrete set of locally determined performance measures.  A CMP provides for the systematic review of performance of multimodal transportation systems in larger metropolitan areas and identification of strategies to address congestion through the use of "management" strategies focused on both the use and operation of facilities and services. 

A CMP is required in metropolitan areas with a population greater than 200,000, or Transportation Management Areas (TMAs), as well as in urbanized areas that have requested designation as a TMA.  The CMP is intended to address congestion through a process that provides for effective management and operations (M&O), based on cooperatively developed travel demand reduction and operational management strategies.  Even if a metropolitan area is not a TMA or in nonattainment status, the CMP represents good practice in monitoring, assessing, and resolving congestion issues in any MPO.  The CMP establishes a rigorous method of identifying and evaluating transportation improvement strategies, including both operations and capital projects. 

A well-designed CMP should help the MPO to: 

  • Develop alternative strategies to mitigate congestion;
  • Determine the cause of congestion;
  • Identify congested locations;
  • Evaluate the potential of different strategies;
  • Evaluate the impacts of previously implemented strategies; and
  • Propose alternative strategies that best address the causes and impacts of congestion.

The congestion management process helps MPOs and partner agencies achieve regional operations performance objectives, and can deliver a number of collateral benefits as well.   By addressing congestion through a comprehensive process, the CMP provides a framework for responding to congestion and other operational issues in a consistent, coordinated fashion.

The CMP enables MPOs and their operating agency partners to measure performance, manage data, and analyze alternative strategies in a systematic manner.  The CMP also enables MPOs to base congestion management strategies on defined objectives; this process allows regions to focus on the most congested areas and achieve maximum benefit by targeting their investments.