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467107-1 Report Abstract

Assessing Effectiveness Measures in the ISTEA Management Systems

Eric Lindquist, Texas A&M University, July 1999, 103 pp. (467107-1)

One of the most innovative components found in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) was the short-lived mandate requiring all 50 states to develop ISTEA Management System plans for six management systems. ISTEA legislation states: “Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue regulations for State development, establishment, and implementation of a system for managing each of the following:

  • Highway pavement on the Federal-aid system.
  • Bridges on and off Federal-aid highways.
  • Highway safety.
  • Traffic congestion.
  • Public transportation facilities and equipment.
  • Intermodal transportation facilities and systems.

This mandate was one of the key provisions in ISTEA and effective compliance in linking management system plans within each state was viewed as a way to reinforce the intermodal focus of ISTEA. The objective of the management system format is that, through system integration, it allows consideration of an entire network for the allocation of scarce resources for design, operations, planning, maintenance, and policy making. Beyond implementation, each management system was to include an evaluation process of the effectiveness of implemented strategies for use as feedback for future decision making. This report evaluates the effectiveness measures that were included in the management system work plans through an assessment of the federal rulemaking process and content analysis of a sample of state DOT work plans. Findings suggest that little attention was paid to measures of effectiveness in both the rulemaking process and in the state work plans. Evaluation theory suggests that this may be the result of ambiguous program objectives as well as an unfamiliarity with program evaluation, in general.

Keywords: ISTEA, Management Systems, Highway Pavement, Bridges, Highway Safety, Traffic Congestion, Public Transportation, Intermodal Transportation