Network Operations arrow 1 Scope arrow 1.5 What is needed?
1.5 What is needed? Print

“Road network operations” can be defined as “maintaining optimal conditions on the road network in relation to supply and demand”.

Supply of road space is governed by a hierarchy of service levels that determines the methods, organisational structures and resources needed to support strategies for road network operations, maintenance and incident response.

Demand for road space reflects the needs of the various customers and stakeholders (road network operators and users) and their operational objectives.  

The operations focus is also consistent with the mission of developing sustainable transport, providing for the mobility needs of the user while avoiding critical negative environmental impacts.  

More and more, transportation professionals and officials will be called upon to implement strategies that support sustainability, providing the basic access needs of individuals and societies in balance with human and ecosystem health and with equity within and between generations.

Recommendations in this vein are included in Chapter 7 of Road Network Operations Handbook "Challenges for Road network Operations".

Wide-area “integrated” network operations

The growing imbalance between supply and demand for road space has placed increasing pressure on the roads authorities with rising expectations of what their operations should achieve. Traffic incidents and congestion in one locality can quickly impact on road users elsewhere, with the result that a wide-area, integrated approach is increasingly required.  

The essential features of a wide-area, integrated approach are as follows:

  • Coverage of a network that has its geographical limits defined according to the road users’ needs, not by administrative boundaries;
  • that may be multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional, multi-national (possibly involving local, regional, national authorities and concession-holders, depending on the locality),
  • that can integrate different levels of infrastructure in response to patterns of use and traffic demand (rural, local or national roads hierarchy), and…
  • that has the necessary institutional and organisational arrangements in place to achieve effective interaction and inter-agency cooperation on traffic management, traffic control and travel information.


The components of integrated network operations are described in Part 2.4 of the Network Management Handbook "Road Network Operation Fields and Corresponding Missions"  They cover the following five missions:

  • Network monitoring
  • Maintaining road serviceability and safety
  • Traffic control
  • Travel aid and user information
  • Demand management.

In responding to these five missions, important activities for the network operator include:

  • Improving safety on the road network;
  • Optimising traffic flow on arterial and freeway networks;
  • Reducing congestion within and between cities;
  • Co-ordinating agency traffic/transit operations;
  • Managing incidents, reducing delays and adverse effects of incidents, weather, roadwork, special events, emergencies and disaster situations;
  • Effectively managing maintenance and construction work to minimise the impact on safety and congestion;
  • Informing travellers with timely and accurate information;
  • Improving the interfaces between modes of transport for passengers and freight;
  • Eliminating bottlenecks due to inadequate road geometry;
  • Providing access to reliable and convenient public transport services.

View/ Download from document store:

Chapter 3 of PIARC Network Operations Handbook “Road Network Operation Tasks and Measures”