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Coordinate infrastructure operations and maintenance

Coordinate infrastructure operations and maintenance

The region’s transportation, water, and other infrastructure extends across multiple jurisdictions, requiring collaboration to ensure a well-functioning system and maximize public investments. Collaborating on infrastructure allows the region’s communities to deliver vital services, resulting in capital cost savings and lower operational costs through economies of scale. It can also benefit municipalities that lack the capacity to independently host an infrastructure project. And capital projects that combine transportation elements with water or wastewater improvements can better leverage limited capital funds. Municipalities in the region often already share infrastructure or collaborate on joint or aggregated projects. One current example is the Cal-Sag Trail, where a group of municipalities along the Cal-Sag Channel collaborated with other public and private partners to construct a 26-mile trail using more than $35 million in federal, state, municipal, and private funds. This approach can work on a smaller scale as well.[1] 


[GRAPHIC TO COME: A rendering showing a project that combines transportation, water, and other infrastructure improvements.]


Another challenge in delivering capital projects and improving highway system performance is disruption resulting from construction. Coordination of projects across transportation agencies, water and wastewater infrastructure providers, and utility companies could reduce the frequency and duration of construction on rights of way and potentially decrease costs, reduce driver delays, and improve safety. In addition, schedule delays during road construction projects caused by the presence of utilities can impose significant cost increases. Often utility infrastructure -- including publicly or privately owned communications, electricity, gas, water, or other lines or equipment -- is located in the transportation facility right of way and must be relocated or removed during construction. Coordination with utility companies is important to avoid construction delays.[2] 


For day-to-day highway operations, effective coordination can reduce the need for costly roadway expansion by making the most efficient use of the existing system. The highway system is most effectively managed when coordination goes beyond an individual operating agency.[3]  Establishing real-time communication and operational agreements between highway agencies, emergency management services, transit operators, and traveler information services can improve transportation system safety and reliability, and reduce congestion. The following chart provides an overview of the region’s highway operations system, which could benefit from increased coordination.


[GRAPHIC TO COME:  Illustration highlighting opportunities for highway operations to be coordinated across entities]


The following describes strategies and associated actions to implement this recommendation.

Partner with other units of government to deliver infrastructure projects

Improved coordination can speed up the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, reduce the number of times that roadways must be reconstructed, and improve system reliability. Transportation departments should partner with one another as well as with other entities that implement infrastructure projects. Project coordination could include jointly delivering single infrastructure projects or aggregating infrastructure projects across boundaries to increase cost efficiencies or financing options. This could also simply mean replicating existing efforts like the Chicago Project Coordination Office to coordinate across entities that maintain roadways, water infrastructure, and utilities to reduce the number of times underground improvements must be made.

Improve utility coordination

Greater coordination with utility companies is necessary to reduce delays on transportation project engineering and construction. Construction-related delays in particular can impose significant cost increases for transportation projects. Better data is needed on detailed utility location information, and a database of detailed utility location information in a secure format should be developed by infrastructure owners and housed at IDOT. The City of Chicago is already working to collect this data during construction activities for future project planning. To improve coordination, counties should reinvigorate their utility coordination councils. Moreover, the State of Illinois should consider updating the statutes that govern utility coordination regulations.[4] 


Utility companies, IDOT, and other infrastructure owners should develop a detailed utility location database.


Counties should use their utility coordination councils in a more effective manner.


>The State should make the statutes that govern utility coordination regulations more effective.


Enhance cooperation to improve roadway operations

To improve system reliability during emergencies, roadway agencies and emergency response agencies must work together to establish goals, objectives, strategies, and intergovernmental agreements that improve operations of the region’s roadway system. Strategies could include ensuring communication is automated between agencies, sharing data and information, improving policies, and establishing necessary agreements between agencies.


The Tollway should work with IDOT to expand their effective incident management procedures across the expressway system.


The State should require 911 call centers to work with road system operators on establishing automated information exchange and data sharing.


The region should collaborate to establish a system of secure, high-capacity data infrastructure region-wide with sufficient redundancy to ensure uninterrupted communication, to operate roadways more efficiently, and to take advantage of future vehicle technology.


IDOT should implement a regional traffic management center that includes arterials.


Transit management centers and highway management centers should establish routine and automated information exchanges.

Highway system operators should share traffic management resources

Opportunities to share resources should be identified and implemented by highway system operators. For example, communications infrastructure and automated messaging could be coordinated to streamline delivery of information and protect against failures by ensuring redundant, fail-safe systems. Traffic management center hardware and software could also be shared among highway operating agencies, allowing use from remote locations and limiting maintenance activities to a single location with fewer computers. And shared staff would allow traffic management centers to be operated 24/7 at reduced expense. These various forms of coordination could lead to improved service delivery, with cost savings that free up funds for enhancing or expanding the management systems.


CMAP should fund a study of the costs and benefits of implementing a regional, multijurisdictional traffic management center, either virtual or traditional.


IDOT and counties should collaborate to establish a regional arterial management center.

Integrate local goals with roadway regulations

Roadway design requirements that prioritize capacity over other goals can help or impede the ability to implement modern best practices like complete streets or innovative practices such as stormwater management. State and county roadway design requirements, as well as associated processes to approve changes, can greatly affect how local governments and transportation agencies are able to pursue their comprehensive goals for transportation, land use, and the environment. As communities in northeastern Illinois consider how to improve their bicycle and pedestrian facilities, improve truck access and routing, and meet other ON TO 2050 transportation priorities, it will be increasingly important for other roadway jurisdictions to strengthen relationships to achieve these goals.


IDOT and counties should work with communities to implement local goals for the transportation system, such as increased bicycle and pedestrian resources, improved truck access and routing, and other ON TO 2050 priorities.


IDOT should revise design manuals to better integrate modern best practices.


[1] Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail,

[2] Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, “Policies to improve coordination between utilities and transportation agencies,” October 14, 2016,

[3] Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Highway Operations, February 2017,

[4] Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, “Policies to improve coordination between utilities and transportation agencies,” October 14, 2016,

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