Managing Travel for Planned Special Events: First National Conference Proceedings
BREAKOUT SESSIONS — TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AND SECURITY PLANS FOR STADIUMS AND ARENAS
Elizabeth Delaney, PB Farradyne, Presiding
Traffic Management Planning for Special Events in Connecticut: Success at Rentschler Field
Joseph C. Balskus
Fuss & O'Neill, Inc.
Joe Balskus discussed traffic management planning for Rentschler Field in Hartford, CT. He described the planning process, elements of the plan, and the initial operation. He summarized some of the lessons learned from the planning process.
Rentschler Field is the new stadium at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Hartford. The first meeting of the traffic management team for Rentschler Field was held in August 2002. The traffic management team was composed of significant project stakeholders. The initial traffic management plan was developed in January 2003 and the final traffic management plan was adopted in May 2003. August 30, 2003 was opening day for the new stadium and Division 1-A UConn football games.
The traffic management team included the State Office of Policy and Management, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), and the State Department of Public Safety. Within ConnDOT, the Traffic and Highway Operations groups were the key stakeholders. Other members of the traffic management team included the local police, fire, economic development, and engineering departments. The Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) was also an important member, along with the UConn police and athletics departments. The consultants and contractors involved in the design and construction of the stadium were also included on the team.
The traffic management plan included temporary traffic control measures, temporary traffic signal phasing and timing improvements, and limited physical improvements. The plan also included police presence and control at intersections. The plan took advantage of ConnDOT's traffic and highway operations and the Hartford area ITS incident management system. ConnDOT highway operations include VMS, HAR, and an incident management system. It also includes coordination with state and local police and enhanced state police patrols.
Plans were developed for the implementation of temporary traffic controls. Separate inbound and outbound plans were developed for before and after football games and other events. Elements of the plan included traffic cone layouts, temporary stadium signs, signal phasing and timing, and police staging areas. Special notes for intersection monitoring and control for use by field personnel were developed.
Overall the transportation elements worked well for Saturday football games. Generally, traffic projections were higher than actual counts. The conservatively estimated football game peak hour did not happen as traffic was more spread out. Operationally, parking issues were resolved. Establishing the traffic management team more than a year before the first game provided the basis for successfully implementing the plan elements.
A few issues were identified in the review of the first year. First, manual operation of traffic signals by police sometimes forced emergency flash operation. The need for an authorized signal maintenance person on scene for each special event rather than on-call, which could take up to two hours for a response, was also identified. Considering credentials for field personnel was suggested. Some issues emerged with coordination with the private parking operator. The biggest unresolved problem was trapping non-stadium vehicles into inbound stadium traffic flow.
Maricopa County Department of Transportation: Phoenix International Raceway Events ATIS Plan
Faisal Saleem, Nicolaas Swart, John Counts, and Stacy Unholtz
Maricopa Department of Transportation
Nicolaas Swart described the use of advanced traveler information systems (ATIS) with the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). He provided a background to the Phoenix area and the PIR, and discussed the use of ATIS and the current traffic management plan. He also highlighted future plans and some of the lessons learned to date.
Maricopa County, which includes the City of Phoenix, is the fourth largest county in the country and one of the fastest-growing areas. More than 3 million people currently live in the county, which includes 24 cities and towns. The AZTechTM Model Deployment Initiative (MRI) in Phoenix provided for the initial development of ITS in the area.
The PIR is located in the southwest part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is a 400-acre, multi-purpose facility. The raceway includes on-site parking for 40,000 vehicles and 4,000 motor homes. It also has five helipads.
Examples of PIR events include the NASCAR Winter Heat – Featherlites, the Copper World Classic Indy 200, the Sun Automotive 200, and the Chevy Trucks NASCAR 150 Winston Cup Event. These races attract between 10,000 and 60,000 attendees.
There are a number of challenges with transportation management for these races. First, freeway and arterial street access is limited, with few alternate inbound and outbound routes. Other challenges include the size and duration of events, reduced travel time to and from events, incident management during event ingress and egress, and the reliability of traffic and parking information to motorists.
The goals of the PIR event traffic management system are to: 1) improve freeway and arterial access to the PIR; 2) improve parking guidance and circulation; 3) automate traffic control functions; 4) centralize traffic management functions; 5) coordinate incident management; 6) improve traveler information; and 7) minimize impacts on nearby neighborhoods.
A Task Force was established after the 1998 race season to implement the plan. A pilot deployment was implemented in November 1999 for the NASCAR race weekend. The system has been regularly deployed since November 2000.
A number of strategies and successes have been realized. These successes include partnering and coordination, technology applications, incident management, and traveler information using radio, freeway VMS, and limited arterial VMS.
Partnering included a cooperative public and private effort. Key players were involved from the planning stages through deployment. Working with vendors for technology demonstrations prior to and during the event also was beneficial.
The PIR Event Management Core Team included representatives from the Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the Arizona Department of Transportation, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Representatives from local police departments, the Phoenix International Raceway, and M&M Parking Consultants were also members of the core team.
MCDOT was the lead agency, with overall coordination responsibilities. The county monitors roadside and airborne camera feeds at the TMC. The department is also responsible for traffic management on county routes and for the traveler information elements.
The MCDOT Mobile Command Center at the PIR includes pan, tilt, and zoom camera controls. There is also a monitor computer with camera images in the PIR Command Center. There is an incident management team at the command center. Permanently installed directional signs and 19 VMS's are also used.
A comparison of traffic volumes, average travel times, and the time to clear the parking lots for the NASCAR Winston Cup Races in the four years from 1998 to 2001 clearly show the benefits of the system. The total vehicle volumes have increased substantially, while the average travel time and the time to clear the parking lots have declined.
Future plans include the phased build-out of the system, including additional infrastructure and communications technology improvements. Broader coverage is also planned, along with more of a focus on real-time communications. Continued deployment of ITS technologies is also projected. Strategies can be adjusted year-by-year. The phased build-out spreads the cost of implementation over several years. Plans also address enhancements to the PIR ATIS.
The PIR project focused on improving existing methods of information coordination for special events. It also explored ATIS applications for mass evacuation. An ATIS plan for PIR events was developed.
A number of activities were conducted as part of the ATIS project. First, current documentation was reviewed, including traffic management plans, mass evacuation plans, and methods of inter-agency communication. Stakeholders from all participating agencies were interviewed. Nationally relevant research, including the TMC PFS and the FHWA Freeway Operations Manual were reviewed.
Although the project focused on increasing the use of ATIS for event traffic management, there was also a focus on using ATIS to improve mass evacuation planning. Traveler information is complementary to existing state-of-the-art traffic management. The ATIS plan for upcoming large events at PIR included a number of recommendations. One recommendation was to deploy the HAR pilot. Four locations were suggested, three serving inbound traffic and one inside the PIR serving outbound traffic. Options included remote programming of messages for greater flexibility in updating, renting units (which can be more cost effective than buying), and the possibility of ADOT providing units.
Another recommendation was to increase coordination with existing VMS. Using VMS to increase the use of the park-and-ride facility at Cricket Pavilion was recommended. Using VMS to advertise the 511 system was also recommended.
Several portable VMS's are already being deployed as part of a separate MCDOT project. Six lane control signs or blank-out signs may be installed at selected locations as part of this project. License plate readers are being deployed as part of the 511 MDI. Feedback from using these technologies can help to determine their use for the PIR.
Another recommendation for enhanced ATIS is greater 511 system use. Arizona is both an early adopter of the 511 system and has the 511 MDI. The enhanced 511 system in Arizona was rolled out in the spring of 2004. Providing data streams to ADOT's 511 operators is being considered. Replacing the 602-RACE information telephone number with 511 is another potential enhancement. Another recommendation for enhanced ATIS is to create PIR sections on the 511 website, http://www.az511.com, and increase coordination with local media outlets.
A number of lessons have been learned with the development and operation of the system to date. First, while ITS elements are good tools, they cannot replace experienced judgment. Second, ITS suppliers and vendors can be helpful partners. Third, involving public safety and emergency personnel early in the process is important. Fourth, coordinating messages on VMS, trailblazers, static signs, radio, websites, and radio and print media is important to avoid misinformation. Fifth, beginning public relations and media campaigns early is critical. Sixth, conducting regularly scheduled meetings and debriefings with all public and private partners proved to be beneficial. Seventh, collecting data for evaluations, including video and traffic volumes should be conducted. Finally, plan a post-event meeting with all partners to review what worked, what did not work, and what to improve for the next event is important.
TECHNICAL EXCHANGE SESSION
Portable ITS Applications for Traffic Control at the Kansas Speedway
Brian Nicholson participated in the Technical Exchange Session. His display focused on the use of portable ITS applications to assist with traffic management at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It summarized the background to the project and the ITS technologies deployed. It also highlighted the benefits from the project.
The project goal was to move traffic in and out of the race facility as safely and efficiently as possible, without disrupting normal through traffic on state highways. This goal was common among the participating partners, which included the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), Unified Government (UG), the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA), FHWA, and the Kansas Speedway.
The Kansas Speedway was initiated in 1998 and approved 1999. The KHP and UG had traffic control responsibility. KHP began planning for traffic management in 1999. At the time, KDOT was looking for a test bed for new traffic control technologies. The first race was held in the summer 2001.
The portable ITS project was implemented using a fast-track process. The project was initiated in December 2000. A request for proposals (RFP) was issued in January 2001, with responses due by the end of February. A contract was awarded April 17, 2001 with United Rentals as the prime contractor and ADDCO as the subcontractor. The traffic control plan details were finalized and implemented by May 30, 2001. The first event at the Speedway was June 1 and 2, 2001.
KHP and KDOT were responsible for pre-event planning. These planning activities included identifying manpower locations, equipment needs, and housing logistics. They also identified public safety priorities, Speedway access restrictions, device locations, and message sets. Finally the agencies were responsible for press releases and detour routes for non-event traffic.
The ITS technologies included using portable CCTV, CMS, and HAR trailers. CMS command software was also used, along with standard traffic control items. Over 80 KHP troopers and personnel are used for each event at the Speedway.
The smart zone includes a portable CCTV trailer equipped with digital video, spread-spectrum communications, and remote pan, tilt, and zoom controls. It can provide video to a remote command post and is solar powered. HAR trailers were used to provide a short-range AM transmitter with communications via cellular modem. They were controlled by software at the command post and were solar powered. Portable CMS's were also used at selected locations. Communications was by cellular modem. The CMS's were controlled by software at the command post and were solar powered.
The project results indicate that the portable ITS elements did meet the goals of helping move traffic in and out of the Speedway safely and efficiently. A number of lessons were learned from the first two races and changes to the plan were implemented. The NASCAR race in September provided the best result, with parking lots cleared in 1-1/2 hours. Future deployments are planned to enhance the system.
CASE STUDY SESSION
Bob Schmidt, HNTB Corporation, Presiding
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Ann Lorscheider and Jeff Corley
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Ann Lorscheider and Jeff Corley described the transportation improvements made at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC after a pedestrian bridge collapsed in May 2000. The Speedway is the home of the Coca Cola 600 and other races. They provided an overview of the area, the events in 2000, and the improvements made in the past few years. These improvements included the TOC, the TMO, and the Joint Operations Center (JOC).
Concord is located to the northeast of Charlotte, NC. The population of Charlotte is approximately 614,330 and the metropolitan area population is 2.2 million. Concord Mills is the top tourist attraction in North Carolina. The seating capacity of the Speedway is 167,000. There are three race weekends each year.
On May 20, 2000, a pedestrian bridge at the Speedway collapsed. There were no fatalities, but there were injuries among race attendees on the bridge when it collapsed. At that time, there was no unified command post. There was also no CCTV. Requests for resources, resource staging, and public information were not always coordinated.
A number of improvements have been made since 2002. These improvements include a TOC and the installation 11 CCTV cameras, 26 reversible lane sign structures, and two overhead DMS. There is also coordinated radio communications and video sharing. Security and emergency response have been better coordinated among agencies. Additional permanent and portable devices are also planned.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) provides 35 employees and 25 vehicles during the race weekends. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) provides over 200 troopers from statewide postings.
The Metrolina Regional Transportation Management Center (MRTMC) provides full offsite system control to manage day-to-day operations. The JOC opened in October of 2004. It represents the joint efforts of federal, state, and local agencies, the Speedway security consultant, NASCAR, and the sponsor. The JOC will enhance inter-agency pre-race planning, and intelligence, resources, documentation, and video sharing during events.
The video sharing system is comprised of a number of elements. Fiber provides the link to the MRTMC. Video conferencing provides the link to the county system. The JOC is linked by microwave.
A number of future improvements are planned. These improvements include a permanent JOC, additional video sharing, and integration of a TOC security video. Integration with MRTMC is also planned as is a fully-functional backup to the MRTMC. Future plans also include additional cameras, changes and additions to the reversible lane system, and a multi-county radio system.