Traffic management can be thought of as a stochastic queuing process where the serving time at one of its control points is dynamically linked to the global traffic pattern, which is, in turn, dynamically linked to the control point. For this closed-loop system to be effective, the traffic management system must sense and interpret a large spatial projection of data originating from multiple sensor suites. This concept is the basis for the development of a traffic flow wide-area surveillance (TFWAS) system. This paper presents the results of a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory to define the operational specifications and characteristics, to determine the constraints, and to examine the state of technology of a TFWAS system in terms of traffic management and control. In doing so, the functions and attributes of a TFWAS system are mapped into an operational structure consistent with the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System (IVHS) concept and the existing highway infrastructure. This mapping includes identifying candidate sensor suites and establishing criteria, requirements, and performance measures by which these systems can be graded in their ability and practicality to meet the operational requirements of a TFWAS system. In light of this, issues such as system integration, applicable technologies, impact on traffic management and control, and public acceptance are addressed.