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Applying Transportation Asset Management to Intelligent Transportation Systems Assets: A Primer


Chapter 1. Introduction

With increasing emphasis on setting and achieving targets for congestion mitigation and reliability, transportation agencies recognize the critical contribution of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) assets to roadway performance. Asset managers of ITS devices have made significant strides in developing and maintaining comprehensive asset inventories driven, in part, by the prospect of better access to real-time information about how the transportation system is performing, allowing agencies to make more cost effective choices with limited maintenance dollars. Comprehensive inventories, when linked with performance data and replacement and maintenance costs, support greater accountability and better decisionmaking for managing resource investments. However, operational and performance data on these assets is often limited to device type, manufacturer/installer, location, and anticipated lifespan.

With a lack of detailed, reliable, and comprehensive real-time performance data, agencies continue to face challenges in planning for the entire lifecycle of ITS assets, which are not always included in the agencies’ core planning and programming processes. However, as the Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) practice continues to evolve, U.S. transportation agencies are identifying ITS devices as critical elements in asset management and long-range planning.


This primer provides information for applying transportation asset management (TAM) principles to ITS assets. It also describes how transportation agencies have benefited from including ITS devices in their asset management planning and integrating asset management practices for ITS assets.

This primer provides information for transportation agencies responsible for:

  • Managing and maintaining ITS assets.
  • Improving asset management practices.
  • Planning new ITS assets and understanding the long-term responsibility (and cost) involved.

The anticipated audience may include (but is not limited to) State departments of transportation (DOT), cities, counties, and other similar agencies. Although the primary objective of this primer is to equip State DOTs that wish to add ITS assets to their State-Level Transportation Asset Management Plans (TAMP) as part of their TAM program, this guide can also be helpful to agencies looking to enhance their TAM practice for ITS assets apart from the TAMP developed pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 119(e), including local agencies.

Primer Structure

This primer has four key sections:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction—Introduces the primer and its purpose.
  • Chapter 2: BackgroundProvides the background, history, and importance of TAM, both in general and specific to ITS assets. This section also introduces the five emerging themes discovered as part of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research study.
  • Chapters 3 to 7: Emerging Themes for Applying TAM to ITS devices—Details the five emerging themes in ITS asset management. For each theme, the chapter provides an overview, specific examples from various transportation agencies, and key actions that agencies can take when implementing asset management for ITS devices.
  • Chapter 8: SummarySummarizes the actions agencies can use to adopt and implement TAM for ITS devices.

Operations Area of Practice

    Integrated ITS Deployment
    Life Cycle Asset Management

Organizational Capability Element

    Asset Management
    Performance Management

Publishing Organization



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