The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) was asked by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to assist in the application and refinement of prior research to help ensure the successful completion of the reconstruction of the IH-35 corridor from Hillsboro to Salado (90 miles total). TTI will implement the project during the five years of the overall IH-35 construction project (2011-2015) for $16.8 million. TTI will lead the following three efforts.
IH-35 Mobility Coordinator
TTI has successfully developed state-of-the-art skills and approaches to serve as a mobility coordinator during major construction projects. The IH-35 project, which will result in the completion of eight lanes through Waco and Belton and six lanes through the remainder of the corridor, is actually made up of 14 individual projects with multiple contractors. The Mobility Coordinator’ role is to anticipate mobility challenges and ensure that stakeholder concerns are communicated and satisfied in support of timely project completion. TTI will expand the current state-of-the-art approach in this area to multiple projects with multiple contractors in a single corridor with some additional rural challenges.
Serve as a project ombudsman, representing the needs of the traveling public and local stakeholders between and among TxDOT, contractors and engineers. Facilitate open lines of communication among key stakeholders. Coordinate and facilitate an expert traffic management team. Support an ongoing public information campaign to educate property owners, businesses and the general public about the project and its impacts. Assist TxDOT in making presentations to public officials, as well as civic and service organizations as requested, to enhance communication about the project.
IH-35 Traveler Information System Developer and Implementer
The economic and mobility importance of the IH-35 corridor requires an unprecedented real-time travel information system to inform travelers, freight operators and businesses of the potential impacts of travel delay and other travel challenges during construction. The size and characteristics of the corridor, as well as the presence of multiple contractors and staggered staging of the projects, mandates a unique approach that will combine real-time traffic monitoring with traffic prediction capabilities. TTI will integrate proven research tools with the best Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology available from the private sector and create new tools to develop and implement this system.
Develop a concept of operation for a first-of-its-kind, multi-region construction corridor traveler information system, leveraging experience from ongoing national research and deployment projects such as the existing Dallas Integrated Corridor Management Project.
Integrate the following existing or to-be-developed innovations to support the highest quality traveler information system:
- Implement proven Bluetooth® travel time monitoring research developed by TTI, which can be done at a fraction of the cost of traditional monitoring approaches.
- Develop a first-of-its-kind, multi-contractor construction activity clearinghouse.
- Integrate a private sector-developed and deployed lane closure monitoring system.
- Enhance and implement a construction closure assessment tool recently developed by TTI to predict the lengths, durations and combined impacts of traffic queues when multiple lane closures are planned simultaneously in the corridor.
- Develop a methodology for tailoring real-time and historic traveler information to the needs of varied travel segments (commuters, trucking, etc.) using real-time data to develop the state’s first methodology to predict future travel conditions.
- Based on user-defined needs, develop an innovative travel information dissemination tool using social media, in-vehicle devices and smart phones. This effort will include guidance from TTI’s distracted driver research team to ensure maximum traveler safety.
IH-35 Intelligent Corridor Development Plan
With the expertise gained through this project, TTI will create a plan to support the deployment of the first intelligent transportation corridor in Texas, and provide the data needed to replicate these “smart” corridors in the future.
Review the state of the practice and future directions in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in Texas and across the U.S. and craft a vision for intelligent corridors in Texas. Incorporate technologies developed through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s IntelliDrive® project (in which TTI is involved) to enable wireless, networked communications among vehicles, transportation infrastructure and passengers’ personal communications devices. Determine the long-term needs for the IH-35 corridor through stakeholder meetings and input. Create an advisory panel to provide input to TxDOT on creating intelligent corridors in Texas.
TTI is conducting a related project for TxDOT to provide guidelines for long-term strategies for ITS deployment, management and privatization to maximize the safety and mobility of the Texas transportation system. This three-year, $1.1 million project is designed to set a new direction for TxDOT in participating in and delivering ITS projects. The project has direct applicability to relieve congestion in urban areas in Texas and optimize the performance of key transportation corridors through technology. As strategic direction is provided through this project, the recommendations can be incorporated into the IH-35 project and the lessons learned from the IH-35 project will be incorporated into future ITS guidelines.