The effectiveness of any managed lanes project, especially priced managed lanes, is measured by how they operate. The operations, as it's associated with the pricing of vehicles, exempt vehicle identification, signing, enforcement, incident management, emergency response, to name a few. All of these operational aspects are affected by the way the facility is designed and constructed, since these create the physical constraints that the agency and stakeholders must work within.
Therefore, the value and importance of developing a Concept of Operations (ConOps) is critical to the success of any project, facility, or corridor, which includes managed lanes components.
Most people in the industry feel that a ConOps is more of a technical system effort. However, we’ve seen that starting out the pre-design phase of the project with a high-level ConOps is critical to generating an effective design for the entire project or corridor. This is especially true, when the project moves forward as a design-build project, whereby design criteria is developed early so that the team can understand the scope.
A high-level ConOps would involve stakeholder coordination in order to generate consistency and buy-in as the project moves forward. More detail would be added to this living document, and in turn, more detail would be included in the project.
Key aspects that should be considered for the initial ConOps are:
- System components related to ITS and tolling
- Pricing and tolling operation responsibilities
- Traffic management responsibilities
- Incident management approaches
- Roadway and infrastructure maintenance responsibilities
- Emergency response processes
- Regional connectivity approach, if applicable
- Lines of communication
- Tolling approach: segment-based, trip-based, point-based, etc.
- Conceptual signing for pricing
- Anticipated support systems (ramp signals, ATMS devices, etc.)
- Coverage of operational scenarios for both the driver and the agency
Understanding how your managed lanes project will operate is the cornerstone for designing and implementing an effective, efficient facility.