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Montana Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) and Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) Strategy

Project #: 4W4424
Start Date: 05/01/2013
End Date: 06/30/2016

The Final Report summarizes research to review the Montana Department of Transportation’s (MDT’s) permanent Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) and Automated Traffic Recorder (ATR) data collection programs to ensure they are efficiently providing the best possible traffic information to meet data user needs. Primary project tasks included a) review of the state-of-thepractice,from the hardware being used to the operating procedures being employed, b) compilation of a comprehensive description of MDT’s current traffic data collection program with a focus on WIM/ATR data, from field data collection to data dissemination, c) survey of traffic data users to determine if their needs are being met, d) review of current traffic factor groups, including alternatives to these groups, and e) development of a methodology to prioritize new WIM/ATR deployments. MDT currently has 106 permanent count sites statewide (42 WIM and 64 ATR sites), and 5,800 short-term count locations. The data collected are processed to generate multiple reports and maps that are available on the internet. Overall, MDT’s WIM/ATR program was determined to be efficiently and effectively meeting traffic data needs. MDT’s traffic data collection and analysis effort was found to be consistent in size/extent with that of similar states, and traffic data users were found to be very satisfied with the data being provided. As MDT’s data collection efforts continue to move forward, recommendations were made to further increase their efficacy.


A critical element in achieving the Montana Department of Transportation’s fundamental goal of providing safe, efficient and sustainable transportation services is the collection of accurate data on how the state’s highways are being used. Such data are necessary to support numerous MDT activities from planning, to infrastructure design, to enforcement of vehicle regulations.  Due to limited resources, it is essential that such data are efficiently collected and then put to the best possible uses.  The foundations of the data collection program are the permanent weigh-in-motion (WIM) and automatic traffic recorder (ATR) systems deployed across the highway network.  These systems must be configured to accurately collect user data across the diverse geographic regions of the state and wide spectrum of goods being transported; further, they need to account for the significant seasonal variations associated with specific commodity hauls.  Every WIM/ATR deployment, however, requires resources for installation, maintenance, and data reduction.  Thus, a planning strategy is necessary to optimize MDT’s investments in its WIM/ATR program.


The research will conduct a comprehensive review of MDT’s WIM program along with a basic review of its ATR data collection program. This review will encompass both basic data collection activities as well as how these data are and can be subsequently used.  Recommendations will be made on potential changes to these programs to provide the best possible information in the most cost-effective manner to meet current and future data-user needs. In addition, the statewide traffic adjustment factors currently used by MDT will be reviewed, and regional adjustment factors will be developed that can reflect regional differences in highway use associated with changing demographics and economic conditions.


The objective of this project is to conduct a comprehensive review of MDT’s permanent Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) program along with a basic review of the Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) data collection program to ensure they are providing the best possible traffic information in the most cost-effective manner to meet current and future data user needs.



  • Jerry Stephens
    Jerry Stephens
  • David Veneziano
    David Veneziano


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