January 5


13 Questions for Scoping a Traffic Study

By Mike Spack

January 5, 2010

traffic engineer, traffic study, traffic study proposal

By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE

Here are thirteen questions every traffic engineer should ask when a client asks them for a traffic study proposal (developers, architects, planners, etc. – feel free to prepare answers to these questions before you call your traffic engineer for a proposal):

  1.  Where is it? Ask if they have a minute so you can pull up an aerial on your computer.
  2.  What kind of development is it (commercial, retail, houses, industrial, etc.)?
  3.  How big is it (acres, gross square footage, employees, students, etc.)?  If it’s a mixed use development (a site with different kinds of uses), get a breakdown of size for each use.
  4.  How many accesses (driveways) are they planning?  What roads will the accesses be on?  Any existing driveways into the site?
  5.  When will it be fully occupied?
  6. Will it be built in phases?
  7. Do they have a concept or site plan they can email you?
  8. Have they discussed the traffic study with any government staff?  If yes, who?  Notes from the meeting?
  9.  Do they know of any nearby recent development?  Any traffic studies done for this parcel or nearby parcels?
  10.  When do they need the proposal?
  11. When do they need the draft traffic study?
  12. Will they want you to present the traffic study results at a government staff meeting, a neighborhood meeting, a public hearing
    at the city council, etc? How many meetings will the traffic engineer need to attend?” This is guess-work to some extent, but it helps the project manager work on a realistic quote.
  13. Are they getting other proposals for the traffic study (this is delicate, but it’s always good to know if you have competition – if you do have competition, try to find out who)?

Did I miss anything?
If you found this list of questions helpful, you may also find our Traffic Study Manual useful. This is the manual we wish we had when we started doing traffic studies almost twenty years ago.  It details the complete process for preparing traffic studies for new land developments/re-developments and we guarantee it will shorten your learning curve. You can even download a free preview see if it’s right for you.  In the manual, we teach you how to:

  • Conduct a thorough inventory of existing conditions.
  • Prepare traffic forecasts.
  • Analyze the capacity of roads and intersections.
  • Determine if roadway or traffic control improvements need to be made for a proposed development.
  • Write easy to understand traffic study reports.

  • Good points, Mike. I like your list. One area that chews up time and budget are meetings with the agencies. You could add to Number 12: “how many meetings will the traffic engineer need to attend?” This is guess-work to some extent, but it helps the PM work on a realistic quote.
    Bing is good. Also, I use Google Maps and even Mapquest at times to zero in on a location. It can be tough to find some of the locations along the railroads.
    Excellent post, Mike!

  • Mike
    A pretty comprehensive list. Other questions that we frequently ask:
    – Has a formal request for a traffic study been provided to the developer?
    – What agencies will be responsible for approving the traffic study? This can affect the number of meetings, and the approval time, particularly if there are multiple jurisdictions such at borders between municipalities.
    – Does the approving agency have a standard or site specific terms of reference? Many Municipal Governments have their own ToR specifying what needs to be covered in the study.
    – How many intersections will be analyzed? This can impact data collection efforts and analysis.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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