Managing Travel for Planned Special Events: First National Conference Proceedings
BREAKOUT SESSIONS — REGIONAL PLANNING AND COORDINATION
Kam Movassaghi, Movassaghi Group, PEC, Presiding
High Plains Coalition
Chris Hill discussed the High Plains Corridor ITS Coalition. He highlighted the agencies involved in the coalition, its purpose, and its customers. He described current activities of the coalition and future plans.
The coalition includes the states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. It focuses on the six interstate highways in these states, I-70, I-80, I-76, I-25, and I-15.
The purpose of the coalition is to provide effective regional incident management, to improve operations and maintenance, to increase safety, and to increase customer satisfaction. Improving operations and maintenance includes providing effective and accurate alternative routing and travel information in the case of major incidents and emergencies at appropriate decision-making points.
The philosophy of the coalition is to share basic information on road closures and restrictions, major incidents and disasters, and weather and storms. The individual states maintain control of their systems and decision making. Web-based information sharing is being evaluated. The states are at differing stages of ITS development and use.
Potential coalition customers include transportation operations and maintenance agencies, commercial motor carriers, travelers, and public safety and emergency management agencies. Homeland security agencies and the military are also potential customers.
Current activities include documenting the existing infrastructure, policies, and procedures in each state. An executive committee and a working committee are being established to help guide activities.
Future needs and actions are being identified and prioritized. A formalized pooled-fund study is being established. Funding commitments from member states are being obtained. The funding level is $100,000 a year, per state, with a two-year commitment. To date, four of the six states have committed funds.
The first goal of the coalition is to establish procedures for sharing information. This approach would provide a central point of contact for communication on alerts. Information gathering includes data on traffic volumes, speeds, and other variables, as well as weather and storm conditions. Information dissemination would include closures and restrictions, alternate routes, driving conditions, and AMBER alerts.
The second goal relates to information integrity. It addresses accurate entry by field or traffic operation center (TOC) personnel. Layering devices, including dynamic message signs (DMS), road weather information system (RWIS), and dynamic alternative routing and having a single entry point and single extraction point are part of the focus. Accurate time estimates for closures and openings and standardized regional messages are also part of the uniform information approach. Interface with a maintenance management system is also important.
Future activities focus on the High Plains Coalition concept of operations. Elements of this approach include information and data flow between states and a new dissemination infrastructure, such as regional websites and shared resources. It also includes standard operating procedures for notification and response triggers, regional organizational structure, common DMS message sets, and implementation and project phasing plans. Long-term administration and management options are also being explored.
TIME Task Force and Planning for Major Planned Special Events in Georgia
Georgia Department of Transportation
Carla Holmes described planning and operating traffic management strategies for special events in Georgia. She discussed the Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Task Force in the metropolitan Atlanta area, as well as statewide efforts.
Approximately 50 percent of the vehicle miles traveled in the state of Georgia are in the metropolitan Atlanta area, and the area accounts for some 75 percent of the congested freeways in the state. Numerous special events are held in the metropolitan Atlanta area in the midst of all of this recurring traffic congestion. Atlanta is home to the Braves baseball, Hawks basketball, and Falcons football teams. Several popular venues are located downtown in the heart of the most heavily congested corridors. These venues include the Georgia World Congress Center, Turner Field, Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome, and Georgia Tech University.
The metropolitan Atlanta area TIME Task Force was formed in 2002. The TIME Task Force consists of local police, fire, emergency medical services, transportation, towing and recovery, HAZMAT clean-up, media agencies, elected officials, jurisdictional decision makers, and others involved in traffic incident management in the metropolitan Atlanta area. In addition to routine traffic incident management, TIME Task Force members work together to manage traffic for planned special events in the Atlanta area.
The mission of the Task Force is to develop and sustain a region-wide incident management program to facilitate the safest and fastest roadway clearance, lessening the impact on emergency responders and the motoring public. The purpose of the TIME Task Force is to:
- Increase public awareness of regional incident management;
- Develop and deliver common multi-agency training for incident responders;
- Continue the dialogue on ways to improve inter-agency coordination, communication, and cooperation in the region; and
- Serve as a platform for participants to develop common operational strategies and a better understanding of other agencies' roles and responsibilities.
The Georgia Department of Transportation's (GDOT) NaviGAtor Intelligent Transportation System is a key component of special events traffic management efforts. Most TIME Task Force members use NaviGAtor in some manner. NaviGAtor is a state-wide system; however, most of the components are located in the metropolitan Atlanta area. While ITS was being planned and deployed in Georgia, these plans were expedited with the announcement that Atlanta was selected to host the 1996 Olympic Games. The Olympics brought a focus, along with additional funding, to ITS deployment.
NaviGAtor ITS is a key component of the metropolitan Atlanta area's planned special events traffic management efforts. The letters of the name "NaviGAtor" can be used to describe how the system supports incident management and managing traffic for special events.
"N" is for non-recurring congestion, and "A" is for assistance to motorists – GDOT's HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operators) Unit is primarily an incident management unit, but is also a motorist assistance unit servicing the metropolitan Atlanta area. HEROs are used extensively during planned special events statewide. They clear the roadway of non-recurring lane blocking incidents, provide traffic control for other incident responders to work safely at the scene of incidents that cannot be quickly removed, and assist stranded motorists. HEROs work round the clock, and are relied on for incident management and motorist assistance for special events with heavy traffic volumes to keep traffic from becoming even more snarled. They are also deployed statewide for special events such as the Masters Golf Tournament, NASCAR races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and recently completed duty for the G-8 Summit on Sea Island.
"V" is for Vision Zero support – NaviGAtor supports ITS America's goal of zero fatalities and zero delay. NaviGAtor's incident management components help to reduce secondary crashes; its motorist assistance components help get stranded motorists out of harm's way quickly; and its traffic management and traveler information components help motorist navigate their way around and through congested conditions efficiently.
"I" is for integrated system and "G" is for Georgia-wide system – NaviGAtor is integrated with local jurisdictions statewide. Several counties and cities use NaviGAtor, making all of its services available on the local level as well as statewide. A new web-based version of NaviGAtor is available to TIME Task Force members. With this system, local staff can access and control surveillance cameras; can view and input incidents; and obtain information about current traffic conditions. NaviGAtor also has several components statewide that are useful in planned special events traffic management. Several of the coastal evacuation system components along Georgia's southern coast, including CMS's and surveillance cameras, were used extensively during the G-8 Summit.
"A" is for advanced traveler information systems (ATIS) and "T" is for travel time reliability – providing timely and accurate information to motorists is critical before, during, and after a planned special event. Motorists need information to make informed travel decisions so they can be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Motorists also want their travel time to be reliable, and not subject to unexpected delays because of incidents and special events. Operators at GDOT's Transportation Management Center work closely with local venue managers to obtain accurate information regarding expected traffic conditions, and ways to minimize delay. NaviGAtor uses changeable message signs to post messages about traffic conditions, travel times, lane closures, and incidents. These messages provide traffic-specific information relating to the event without promoting the event itself. The department's telephone service includes live operators providing information on traffic conditions statewide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Motorists can also report incidents and request the assistance of a HERO through this service. Other components include traveler information displays that are placed at welcome centers, in major employment centers, and anywhere large numbers of people gather. These displays provide location-specific traffic conditions, travel times, streaming surveillance video, and incident information.
"O" is for optimizing the system and "R" is for recurring congestion – NaviGAtor supports AASHTO's goal this year of optimizing the system. NaviGAtor uses an extensive video detection system to collect and process information about traffic conditions to manage recurring congestion. Many special events in Atlanta begin or end around the afternoon rush-hour, so there is a need to manage recurring and non-recurring congestion simultaneously, with one compounding the problems of the other. This is accomplished by traffic signal optimization, and current efforts to integrate arterial traffic management into NaviGAtor. For now, traffic signals are retimed to manage special events traffic. Traffic signals are controlled from local Traffic Control Centers (TCC), which use the NaviGAtor system. NaviGAtor also uses ramp meters to better manage recurring and non-recurring traffic congestion at freeway entrance ramps. An extensive expansion of ramp meters in the region is underway, taking the number used from 5 to over 100.
A mini-case study of one of the planned special events that TIME Task Force members manage is the NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA just southeast of Atlanta. NaviGAtor ITS components, HEROs, Georgia State Patrol, several local county law enforcement, and transportation officials work to manage traffic during this event that can draw over 200,000 patrons. Traffic signals in the area are retimed, major corridors leading up and away from the AMS are contra-flowed before and after, messages are placed on CMS's days in advance and for miles around, and special parking strategies are employed. AMS also constructed a small TCC on-site that uses NaviGAtor for traffic surveillance and monitoring.
In conclusion, ITS is critical to managing traffic for planned special events in Georgia. Providing accurate and timely traveler information before, during, and after an event is essential to successful traffic management efforts. It is also important to use the media to help provide information to the public. A group like the TIME Task Force makes it easier to open the dialogue about planning for and responding to special events because of the improved coordination, communication, and cooperation that is fostered through regular traffic incident management efforts.
TECHNICAL EXCHANGE SESSION
Incorporating Special Events within a Regional Incident Management Program
James M. Paral
Wilber Smith Associates
James Paral participated in the Technical Exchange Session. His display focused on incorporating special events transportation within regional incident management. The use of a systems engineering approach to address the required roles and responsibilities was highlighted, as was the need to incorporate special events into the overall incident management program.
Recent advances in the deployment of integrated transportation management systems (ITMS) and the formation of incident management programs have resulted in benefits for travelers and further opportunities for transportation-related agencies. Incidents related to special events are not addressed through formal processes in many locations, however.
Special events can be incorporated into an incident management program using a systems engineering approach that leads to an operational concept that assigns roles and responsibilities for such events. The systems engineering approach offers a structured way of thinking to achieve program goals and objectives. This approach helps address all issues and provides completeness to the incident management program.
The systems engineering process includes the concept of operations, or operational concept as it is called, in a regional ITS architecture. This phase is comprised of two elements. The first element is a needs analysis to assess the adverse impacts caused by incidents and to identify stakeholders' needs. The second element is an operational concept examining roles and responsibilities. Similar to regional incident management programs, the goals are to identify current and future stakeholder roles and responsibilities in the implementation and operation of special events and incident management systems, and to achieve buy-in on these roles and responsibilities, laying the groundwork for future agency coordination and agreements.
A needs analysis is the first step of the systems engineering process approach. The needs analysis studies the user and the stakeholder's perspectives to analyze the current or expected travel situation and to develop a list of requirements, goals, and objectives to be met by the proposed program.
A description of the local environment, followed by discussions with the stakeholders, provides the program background. The opportunities for improvement can then be identified, with the intention to provide all stakeholders with a common understanding of the program's goals and objectives. The assessment of the local environment should identify event traffic generators, such as stadiums and arenas, convention centers, fairgrounds, tourist attractions, and parade routes.
Developing measures or threshold levels that can be used to determine the magnitude of a special event and the need for traffic mitigation can be beneficial. Possible measures include excessive demand, reduced capacity, delays, increased travel times, and increased safety concerns.
Identifying the appropriate stakeholders is also important. Typical stakeholders include state and local departments of transportation, transit agencies, safety and law enforcement agencies, event facility operators, and event promoters. Event facility operators and event promoters have traditionally not been considered as stakeholders.
After the need for special event management is identified, stakeholders can determine opportunities for improvement. This process can be performed systematically by following the incident management process used for vehicle crashes and breakdowns, which consist of detection and verification of incidents, information sharing, incident coordination and response, incident clearance, and post-incident evaluation and assessment.
The operational concept describes how the traffic operations should occur from the perspective of different users of the system, including each stakeholder, the event customers, the non-event travelers, and adjacent businesses to the event center.
Incident management is the process of managing multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional responses to highway traffic disruptions. Incident management addresses the detection of a particular condition, response to the condition, information on traffic conditions and re-routing, and restoration of normal operations. Incidents may include weather, security/safety, capacity reduction, and excessive demand. Special events are incidents that create excessive demand, but may combine the other incident types. Reviewing each type of incident for an operational concept for special events may be considered. This assessment typically includes identifying the users, user interactions, operational plans, and coordination. While there are similarities in each category, there are distinct differences worthy of separate treatment.
After the nature of special events within the local or regional environment is determined, the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder can be identified, thus making up the operational concept. Since the timing of a special event is known in advance, some of the incident management process can be performed before the actual event. Pre-event activities include data collection (incident detection and verification), data dissemination (information sharing), and planning and coordination (incident response). Real-time event activities include traffic management and control (on-scene management and incident clearance). Post-event efforts include evaluation and assessment.
The key to special event management is identifying and agreeing on the roles and responsibilities of the pre-event steps. An individual or entity must be given the role and responsibility for ensuring that the pre-event steps occur. This can be thought of as an event information coordinator, who is responsible for outreach with event generators and promoters, data dissemination, and planning and coordination, including facilitating pre- and post-event meetings.
Each agency, in cooperation with all the stakeholders, should determine the extent of effort required for an event information coordinator. The major determining factor is the quantity of expected events. The next factor to consider is the source of event information, the event generator and/or promoter, and their involvement in the incident management program. An area that hosts a number of special events may have its own event information coordinator. The City of Anaheim, CA is host to a major amusement park, entertainment resort center, convention center, stadium and arena that are all active throughout the year. The Anaheim traffic management center includes a full-time position for coordinating special event traffic activities.
Regional agencies that operate traffic management systems may take the lead to perform the roles and responsibilities of an event information coordinator. Dubai Municipality in the United Arab Emirates is currently implementing a regional traffic management system with incident management tools on its freeways and major arterials. In state departments of transportation, it is expected that operations personnel from the districts, regions, or traffic operations center may be assigned the responsibility of an event information coordinator, as is done at the New Jersey Department of Transportation. This staff person will be a regular participant in regional incident management meetings, and conducts the necessary outreach and planning for special events along with the appropriate local stakeholders.
CASE STUDY SESSION
Tom Hunter, URS Corporation, Presiding
Event Management in Anaheim
City of Anaheim, California
John Thai described traffic management strategies used in the City of Anaheim, CA. He provided an overview of the attractions and activities in the city. He discussed the techniques used to help manage traffic to those attractions and special events. Mr. Thai covered the following points in his presentation.
Anaheim is home to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, Angel Stadium, Arrowhead Pond, and the Anaheim Convention Center. These and other sites attract approximately 18-20 million visitors annually. The Anaheim Convention Center encompasses 813,607 square feet and is the largest convention facility on the West Coast. The Anaheim Angels baseball team was the 2001 World Champions and 2004 AL West Champions. The Anaheim Ducks hockey team was the 2001 Western Conference Champions.
The Anaheim TMC provides the focal point for operating the city's transportation system. Elements of the Anaheim TMC system include closed circuit television (CCTV), CMS, and the SCOOT traffic signal system program. The TMC and traffic management activities for special events are coordinated with Caltrans and other agencies.
Weekly event management meetings are held. Topics discussed at these meetings include the events and activities for the week, coordination activities, updates on any construction and maintenance projects, and debriefings from the previous week.
CMS's are located at strategic points around the various attractions and sites. The message signs and signal timing can be altered to help manage traffic associated with special events.
Even with extensive pre-planning, problems can arise with managing traffic associated with special events. Problems may be more likely to occur the first time an event is held, with events that impact peak travel periods, and with events that attract significant out-of-town visitors.
Renovation of the TMC is underway. Upgrading of the communications infrastructure is also occurring, along with deploying wireless technologies. Enhancing security measures for residents and guests is also a major focus of the renovation.
In conclusion, ITS plays a major role in traffic management in the City of Anaheim. Good information and planning are critical to event management. Multiple agencies working together is important to successful programs.