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Evaluation of Travel Time Methods to Support Mobility Performance Monitoring:
Ambassador Bridge (Page 2 of 5)

Data Collection Process

For this study, two data collection locations were used in each direction. The "number 1" location was immediately before the tollbooths and the "number 2" location was immediately after the primary inspection booths. For consistency among all border crossings visited as part of the overall project, the data collection positions were distinguished by the direction of travel that they were measuring (outbound or inbound with respect to the U.S.). As already mentioned, movement from Detroit into Windsor is actually southbound; however, by designating this direction "outbound" confusion is eliminated. The Outbound 1 (OB-1) position; therefore, is in the U.S. plaza, before the tollbooths. The Outbound 2 (OB-2) position was after the Canadian Customs primary inspection booths. Inbound positions (IB-1 and IB-2) were similarly positioned (see figures 8, 9, and 10).

A blueprint of the Outbound 1 (OB-1) data collection site on the Detroit side of the Ambassador Bridge. Arrows indicate the location of the truck booths, auto booths, and the OB-1 Data Collector (portable dividers for duty-free not shown) which is located in the U.S. plaza, before the tollbooths.
Figure 8. Layout at the Outbound 1 (OB-1) data collection site on the Detroit side.

A blueprint of the Inbound 2 (IB-2) data collection site on the Detroit side of the Ambassador Bridge. Arrows indicate the location of the truck booths, the U.S. Customs Building, and the IB-2 Data Collector.
Figure 9. Layout at the Inbound 2 (IB-2) data collection site on the Detroit side.

A blueprint of the Outbound 2 (OB-2) and Inbound (IB-1) data collection sites on the Windsor side. Arrows indicate the location of the IB-1 Data Collector, the Canadian Customs Building, and the OB-2 Data Collector (after the Canadian Customs primary inspection booths).
Figure 10. Layout at the Outbound 2 (OB-2) and Inbound 1 (IB-1) data collection sites on the Windsor side.

Each data collector used a handheld computer to record partial license plate information of all commercial vehicles that passed their location. The computer would also store the time that each license plate was entered. The data from the two locations in each direction would be combined, allowing the determination of the travel time for each vehicle that was recorded at both locations.

During both weeks of data collection, the on-site team included four data collectors and one supervisor. The supervisor provided additional support to take over data collection when a collector was given a break or lunch, or sometimes collected supplemental data during a non-typical event. All four collectors and the supervisor had cell phones, which worked well at this crossing. The length of the bridge would probably cause most if not all handheld radios (walkie-talkies) to be ineffective – at least, those handheld radios that do not require licenses because of their lower power.

As previously mentioned, the hours during which data were collected were varied during each week to ensure the greatest possible coverage of conditions, including periods of low and high traffic volume. Table 1 shows the data collection hours for each day during the two site visits. The supervisor generally brought lunch to the collectors and collected data at each station so as to allow the collector to take a meal break or rest break during the data collection, resulting in approximately 12-½ hours of data collection during each of the full days.

Table 1. Hours of Data Collection
Date Start End
5/22/01 12:30 am 8:00 pm
5/23/01 8:00 am 9:00 pm
5/24/01 6:00 am 6:30 pm
6/19/01 9:00 am 9:45 pm
6/20/01 6:00 am 6:40 pm
6/21/01 5:30 am 6:10 pm

Obtaining permission was a smooth process. Several separate meetings were held during a two-day period to secure approval. One meeting was held on June 7, 2001 with U.S. Customs officials in their facilities at the bridge, which included their Director of Field Operations, Port Director, and Chief Inspector. A meeting was held the next day at the Ambassador Bridge offices on the Detroit side. In attendance were Ambassador Bridge's General Manager and the ITS Director, who took the Battelle representative on a tour of all facilities, pointed out logical sites for the data collectors, and provided introductions to the District Director of Canadian Customs at his office in the Canadian Customs building. During these preparatory meetings, the Battelle representative distributed several key documents (e.g., the project's explanation, methodology and goals) to help all host organizations understand our purpose. These helped to facilitate coordination.

Ambassador Bridge talked with the local Canada Immigration Director on behalf of the Battelle team. The Director determined that – as visitors under NAFTA – the team would not need work permits to collect data on the premises. Prior to the data collection during both visits, team members had to obtain visitor's records from Canada Immigration, for which personal information was provided. During the first visit, however, the team arrived during Victoria Day (a Canadian holiday that fell on Monday), which caused a delay in getting final permission and processing the necessary paperwork until the following day. The team completed the paperwork on Tuesday morning prior to starting the data collection, which induced a delay in the first day's start time. During the second visit, no one on the data collection team except the supervisor had participated in the first collection, so three of the new collectors went through that process during Monday. There was no delay in data collection. Incidentally, this Visitor's Record had the effect of facilitating the process at primary of explaining why the team needed to enter Canada via auto.

Other than the formal visitor's records, Canadian Customs required only a simple visitor's pass from the shift supervisor for the OB-1 collector for each day of the data collection. Neither U.S. Customs nor Ambassador Bridge required special passes or other written permission for the team to work on their premises, only verbal approval. We also contacted the FHWA Michigan Division to notify them of the nature of the data collection.

Table 2 contains a list of the individuals who were contacted and their telephone and e-mail information. With this, future data collection for this project should be able to be organized and authorized with much less effort. However, any new project would require additional time to explain the data collection objectives to the involved parties and gain their approval.

Table 2. Agency Contacts
Contact Agency Phone/Fax E-mail
Kevin Weeks
Director, Field Operations
U.S. Customs 313-226-2955 ext. 101 313-226-3118 (fax) Kevin.W.Weeks@
Angela Ryan
Port Director
U.S. Customs 313-442-0200 313-226-3179 Angela.Ryan@
Ben Anderson
Chief Inspector
U.S. Customs 313-226-6061 313-226-5347 (fax) Walter.B.Anderson@

David Jolly
General Manager

Ambassador Bridge 313-967-9816 313-967-9818 (fax)
Joe Polak
ITS Director
Ambassador Bridge 313-496-1445 313-496-1446 (fax) empty cell
David MacRae
District Director
Canada Customs 519-257-6491 519-257-7844 (fax) David.MacRae@
Bonnie Brown
District Director
Canada Immigration 519-971-2030 empty cell
Morrie Hoevel FHWA Michigan Division Office 517-377-1844 empty cell
Aisha Hall
statistics compiler for Detroit to Windsor
Ambassador Bridge empty cell AHallambassador@
Vicki Winter
statistics compiler for Windsor to Detroit
Ambassador Bridge empty cell Bridgegm@

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