With significant funding challenges and a focus on preserving existing transportation infrastructure, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is conducting Operational Planning Study (OPS) in the Metro Atlanta region to mitigate bottlenecks and identify low-cost operational strategies that can be implemented within six months to five years. Sixty-five bottleneck locations were identified and five operation strategies were considered that included adding capacity, improving design geometrics, Intelligent Transportation Systems, improvements related to freight and demand management. It is critical to prioritize and separate the high priority transportations projects from the lower priority ones and therefore, a project prioritization tool was developed as a part of this effort.

The project prioritization methodology was based on a set of themes that were developed considering the strategic goals identified at the national, state and local levels. The prioritization tool consists of six themes including transportation mobility, financial feasibility, safety, system connectivity and economic growth, system preservation and environmental sustainability and project support and readiness, and a total of twenty performance measures. It includes both the qualitative and the quantitative performance measures that were evaluated using different tools like VISSIM, CORSIM, CAP-X, HCS, customized Benefits to Cost tool and ArcGIS. The total project ranking points were estimated through a scoring process. A sensitivity analysis was performed to understand the impact of each theme in the project rankings by creating unique scenarios with different weighting factors. This helped GDOT to identify potential operational improvements that continued to migrate to the top of the ranking, regardless of where focuses or emphasis were placed.

The tool is transparent and was developed with the intention that it could be customized to include different types of projects as per the needs of different agencies. Therefore, it was designed to be flexible and user-friendly. The user can expand the project list, change the themes and performance measures as suited to the projects being prioritized, and re-assign weighting factors on the fly.