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Does privatizing highway management work?

Assessing the performance of Atlanta's contracted highway management program

As a method for improving and maintaining our transportation infrastructure, while controlling costs, some federal, state, and regional agencies are adopting public-private partnerships for building and managing various roadways. The Georgia Department of Transportation has hired private companies to oversee and improve the traffic control equipment, communication, and timing of 20 of the Atlanta region’s main arterial highways. These companies are also implementing state-of-the-art, active-management strategies where traffic control is adjusted in response to events such as crashes.

Westat is evaluating the operational performance for these corridors over time so that officials can determine the value to the public of privatizing highway management.

  • We report on a monthly basis to the Georgia Department of Transportation on how each highway corridor and the entire program is performing.
  • Our report is based on information from Bluetooth traffic sensors, GPS-based probe vehicles, loop detectors, safety data, and corridor manager activity logs.
  • Westat has been conducting these studies since fall 2010, and the work is expected to continue as long as the program is judged to be beneficial.
  • Our results show that the Atlanta program is effective in reducing traffic congestion along these 20 corridors and remains cost-efficient.

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