Managing Travel for Planned Special Events: First National Conference Proceedings
BREAKOUT SESSIONS — INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SUPPORT AND APPLICATIONS
Jeff Randall, Siemens ITS, Presiding
ITS Support and Applications
Carlton J. Allen
Texas Department of Transportation/TranStar
Carlton Allen discussed the ITS applications associated with transportation management during Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston. He provided an overview of the ITS elements in the city, the agencies involved, and the special applications used to help manage traffic for the Super Bowl.
Houston TranStar is the advanced transportation management center for the area. It was developed and is operated through the joint efforts of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), the City of Houston, and Harris County. In addition to personnel from these agencies, other emergency management personnel and traffic reporting services are located in the control room.
ITS equipment monitoring Houston freeways includes CCTV, Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI), and environmental roadway sensors. The AVI system provides freeway speed data that is used for the real-time freeway traffic map on the Internet and other applications. The environmental roadway sensors provide information on high water levels and other weather-related conditions.
ITS equipment used for information dissemination includes the TranStar website, with the real-time traffic map, HAR, and DMS. The TranStar website averages some 282,225 daily hits. In February of 2004, when Super Bowl XXVIII was held, the average increased to 328,406 daily hits. HAR and DMS are used to provide real-time traffic information to freeway motorists.
In 1995, the Texas Transportation Commission approved changes in the regulations for use of state right-of-way. One of the changes placed more responsibility on event organizers, in this case the NFL Host Committee, for transportation during special events. These responsibilities include the necessary traffic control plans.
A number of agencies were involved in the development of the traffic control plan for the Super Bowl events. Representatives from TxDOT, METRO, city and county agencies, the local NFL Host Committee, and local consultants were all involved in planning and operating different elements.
The Super Bowl is more than just a football game. There were three events prior to the Super Bowl that also required special transportation efforts. These events were the NFL Experience, the Main Event, and Houston Salute. Finally, there was the Super Bowl XXXVIII football game.
Signing to direct fans to the stadium for the Super Bowl and to other events involved a number of elements. In addition, DMS were used to direct hazardous material trucks away from the major freeway sections used by fans entering and exiting the game.
DMS and HAR were used heavily for the six days of events. Some 354 dynamic messages were activated on the DMS. These messages were displayed for approximately 9,000 hours. HAR included some 498 transmission hours over the six days.
The system worked well. On game day, traffic never backed up onto the freeway. NFL Transportation called it the "best in-bound movement in years" and the "fastest exit we have ever seen."
Even with the success experienced with managing traffic for the Super Bowl and related events, areas for improvement were identified. Although the communication among agencies was good, possible enhancements were identified. Also, enhancements in the communication between agencies, the event organizations, and consultants were identified.
ITS Support for Special Events Operations
Gregg Loane and Carl-Henry Piel
Greg Loane discussed the use of ITS support for special event operations. He described some of the available ITS technologies and provided examples of ITS applications to enhance transportation management at recent special events.
Managing traffic at special events traditionally relied on existing technologies. Traffic management was typically planned by the event organizer, local government, local police, and operated by the organizer and the local police. Recent trends influencing the transportation system include larger events and increased security concerns.
ITS is a powerful operational management tool. ITS infrastructure improves flexibility and can be deployed relatively quickly. It supports a wide variety of event types. ITS also leaves a legacy of infrastructure that can assist for future events.
ITS can be used for data collection and monitoring. CCTV, automatic vehicle location (AVL), and data warehousing are examples of data collection and monitoring capabilities. Data dissemination may occur through 511 systems and other phone-based systems, websites, personal data assistants (PDAs), Blackberries, and HAR.
World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto provides one example of ITS applications supporting special event transportation management. Some 250,000 participants registered for five events over four days. The two-day mass attracted over 500,000 people. There was a significant coordination effort among the transportation, law enforcement, and emergency management agencies in the area.
ITS features used during the event included Toronto's ATMS and ATIS. Elements of these systems included CCTV and control room operators. Information was distributed by phone, fax, e-mail, website, VMS, portable CMS, and other media.
The use of ITS to assist with transportation management at World Youth Day highlights the importance of inclusive and coordinated management of the ITS infrastructure. It also illustrates the intensive use of the 511 system and ATIS. Finally, it points out the need to monitor efforts and technology that work and those that do not work.
The 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston provides another example of a national special event with a very high level of security. Some 35,000 delegates, media, staff, and guests participated in different elements of the Convention. The Convention posed major security considerations. The Convention caused major road, rail, and transit closures. Some local employers used alternate work arrangements for employees to reduce work-related travel during the Convention.
ITS features used to help manage transportation during the Convention included multiple ATMS and CCTV. Multiple agencies and organizations were involved in planning and operating the special events. Agencies involved included the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway), the MBTA, the Massachusetts Turnpike, Logan Airport, the Boston Police Department, and other state, regional, and city departments. There was a recognized need to share resources to fill gaps in coverage and to support field personnel. The CCTV was integrated into one network, and a variety of viewing devices were used to support mobile and multi-staged event environments.
The level of cooperation among agencies during the Convention was excellent. CCTV became a common language supporting the different groups. The approach also benefited security personnel.
TECHNICAL EXCHANGE SESSION
Managing Planned Special Events: The VDOT Northern Virginia SMART Traffic Signal System Approach
Xiaoling (Ling) Li and Katherine D. Jefferson
Virginia Department of Transportation
Ling Li and Katherine Jefferson participated in the Technical Exchange Session. Their display highlighted the traffic signal system approach used by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for planned special events.
The Northern Virginia District (NOVA) of VDOT serves a population of over 1.4 million people and maintains more than 4,000 miles of roads in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties. The region is thriving economically; but the transportation infrastructure has not kept pace with this growth. In 1994, VDOT initiated an infrastructure improvement project, which deployed Type 170 traffic signal controllers at approximately 700 signalized intersections in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties. The project also included construction of a central traffic signal control system.
A component of the signal operations refinement process is signal re-timing or optimization. The primary objectives of optimization are to improve traffic progression and reduce adverse environmental impacts, measured as benefits derived from reductions in travel time, delay, stops, fuel consumption, and vehicle emissions. The optimization process also makes it possible to create a digital library, a database of optimized networks that can serve as the basis for transportation planning, roadway design, and system operations enhancements.
The use of the new traffic signal system with four planned special events was presented. The fours special events were the Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday shopping season at retail centers in northern Virginia, programs at the George Mason University Patriot Center, the National Capital Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Display, and April 15, tax day.
Special signal timing plans for the Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday shopping season were first implemented in 1999 at three malls in Tysons Corner, VA. The special plans now include 165 traffic signals at 17 retail centers in three counties. These efforts have been coordinated with representatives from the malls, local transportation management associations, and city and county staff.
The George Mason University (GMU) Patriot Center is a 10,000 seat arena used for academic commencement activities, athletic contests, and various educational and social events. In 2000, VDOT staff worked with representatives from GMU and other agencies to develop new signal timing plans for events at the Patriot Center.
The National Capital Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Display occur on the Mall. Regional signal system managers from seven jurisdictions developed special plans to be used to route traffic away from District of Columbia after the event.
April 15 is the last day for filing federal income tax returns. Based on a request from officials at the Merrifield Regional Postal Facility, which is located on heavily used Route 29, VDOT staff developed special timing plans for use on tax day. VDOT staff also assisted with other traffic management approaches at the facility.
These four examples were byproducts of the traffic signal optimization program. Planning activities were initiated by VDOT staff and in response to external requests for assistance. Planning activities include an evaluation of existing signal timings and stakeholder meetings.
Event operations planning included four activities. These activities were data collection, data analysis, timing plan development, and simulation and fine-tuning. Of the three types of data collected – traffic counts, existing timing plans, and roadway conditions and geometric data – only traffic counts are collected for special events.
Data analysis consisted of four tasks. These tasks included tabulating traffic counts and summarizing the data in spreadsheets, balancing the counts, creating area maps, and using flow diagrams to determine the number of plans to be developed.
The development and optimization of the timing plan included four elements. The Level of Service (LOS) and delay was calculated for each affected intersection. Coordination among signals was maintained. The Synchro program was used for optimization and adjustments were made using an iterative process using Time-Space Diagrams.
Simulation and fine-tuning and validation represent the final activity. SimTraffic was used for the simulation. Simulations were used to compare Synchro-recommended timing plans with known or observed traffic conditions and motorist tendencies.
Day-of-event activities included on-site and control room monitoring. Verification of timing plan operation occurred, along with checking signal status and field equipment functionality. Timing plan adjustments were made in accordance with real-time traffic conditions. Internal traffic control challenges were addressed.
Post-event activities focused on debriefing sessions. Timing plan effectiveness was evaluated. Intersection modifications, transportation, and operational improvements were identified. The sessions also provided a feedback loop for timing plan development for future events.
The experience to date indicates that staff responsibilities continue to increase. Regional cooperation has become routine and extends beyond planned special events. Challenges include institutional impediments, manpower constraints, technological difficulties, and continual growth of regional economy. Having a global transportation network management philosophy is key.
Evaluation of Intelligent Transportation Systems for the Planning and Operations of Olympic Events
Osama Tomeh and Georges B. Darido
Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.
Osama Tomeh and Georges Darido participated in the Technical Exchange Session. Their display provided information on the experience with transportation for the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, and Athens in 2004. It also covered transportation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The display addressed the pre-event plans and objectives, operations during the Olympics, and post-event lessons and legacies.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games represent one of the largest events a city can organize. The Olympics are the ultimate test of transportation planning and operations. Efficient transportation is critical to the success of the Olympics.
The Olympics often act as a catalyst for large investments in transportation services and infrastructure in the host city or region. Examples of investments include ITS, traveler information systems, traffic and transit management, control and communications centers, and emergency response capabilities. These systems have a long-term impact and legacy after the Olympics.
Pre-planning for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics included a number of activities. Atlanta was selected as one of the federally-supported ITS technology showcase cities in 1994. As a result, significant investments were made in new ITS technologies in the mid-1990's. Atlanta represents one of the most ambitious ITS deployments in the U.S. during the 1990s.
Pre-planning for the 2002 Summer Olympics in Sydney focused on a major expansion of the city's public transport services, primarily the rail system. There was limited expansion of the existing infrastructure. There was a goal of optimizing the infrastructure capacity with select ITS investments.
Public safety and security were top concerns in planning for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City after the events of September 11, 2001. Transportation was expected to be the controlling factor for capacity at several venues, however. Transportation plans also had to consider the long distances between the venue sites, winter weather conditions, and the constrained access to the mountain sites. The use of the latest technologies and public information were important elements to address these concerns.
Security and public safety were also top priorities at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The regional transportation system was restructured with significant new infrastructure. These improvements placed demands on the schedule. Improvements included 210 km of new or upgraded roads, 7.7 km of new Metro, 23.7 km tram network, 40 km suburban railway, parking lots with management systems, and a new TMC.
During the Olympics in Atlanta, ITS had a positive impact on incident management and showed promise for traffic and transit management and traveler information. Interagency coordination and personnel training were tested.
In Sydney, public transport capacity was enhanced with ITS and was the primary means of access to venues, as automobile access was highly discouraged. Parking at venue sites was reserved for official vehicles only. The rail network was the backbone of the operations with buses as feeders and distributors.
An extensive system of park-and-ride facilities and associated shuttle services were used with the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
An emphasis on on-site staff supported by communication technologies helped ensure successful venue operations. Centralizing the joint operations and control center staff also proved beneficial.
In Athens, the Olympic Operational Plan emphasized traffic and transit management measures and policies supported by ITS. These approaches were facilitated by close collaboration with traffic authorities.
After the Atlanta Olympics, the ITS investments stagnated. The use of different elements demonstrated an ongoing need for assessing ITS technologies. Future deployment of ITS should facilitate performance monitoring. The multi-agency planning exercises were useful.
In Sidney, the lead agency had a clear mandate to plan, fund, and manage the transportation system for the Olympics. The transport management center was developed with extensive institutional integration and the co-location of staff.
The Salt Lake City Olympics served as a catalyst for the development of an ITS regional architecture following the National ITS Architecture requirements. The traffic management and ATIS were critical to the success of the TDM program.
The Athens Olympics highlighted the importance of coordinating transportation with other functional areas, such as technology, logistics, and international relations. Recruitment and training of thousands of staff and volunteers demanded special processes and systems. ITS investments, such as traffic management systems, generate ongoing benefits to residents and a positive public image.
These four examples show how the role of ITS technologies in Olympic Games transportation planning and operations has been growing. In all cases, major investments involving ITS were successfully coordinated to coincide with the opening of the games. However, facilities and processes during the event should be as simple and as clear as possible. Capital investments can be contained by optimizing existing infrastructure with ITS. Transportation control and operations centers played a central role in ensuring transportation security and reliability during the games and are a major post-game legacy. Dissemination of timely and accurate transportation information to the public, officials, and media sources was one of the biggest benefits.
The legacy of ITS investments has improved since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. ITS deployments in connection with a major event should be made with achievable goals and long-term impact in mind, along with the opportunity to advance a regional ITS architecture integrating transportation systems and information flow. Interagency coordination should be used as a prerequisite for ITS deployments that cross institutional boundaries. Possible coordination includes shared use of technologies and resources between agencies and co-location of staff in management centers to promote additional coordination and interaction. Adequate time must be provided for agencies to develop working relationships, train personnel, and to plan multi-agency exercises.
Applications of ITS for Planned Special Events in Texas
Texas Transportation Institute
Jeff Whitacre participated in the Technical Exchange Session. His display focused on ITS applications for planned special events in Texas, including information on the use of ITS technologies and traffic management strategies to help manage planned special events in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso. TxDOT has the lead role in the deployment and operation of these applications. TxDOT coordinates these efforts with local, regional, and transit agencies in managing traffic for special events.
Permanent and portable DMS and courtesy patrols are used to help manage traffic for the football games at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and help direct event attendees to available parking. Portable DMS, portable CCTV, and courtesy patrols are used to direct and manage traffic for the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Permanent and portable DMS is used with other major special events in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
In San Antonio, lane control signals, DMS, and CCTV, are used to help manage traffic at events at the Alamo Dome. Similar approaches are used during Fiesta Week and for other major events.
Numerous ITS technologies are used to help manage special events in Houston at Minute Maid Park and Reliant Stadium. Elements include permanent and portable DMS, trail blazer signs, CCTV, HAR, and ramp closures. A portable TMC and other techniques and technologies were used for the 2004 Super Bowl.
In El Paso, DMS and courtesy patrols are used for events at Sun Bowl Stadium, the Sun Bowl Parade, and other events.
For planned special events both permanent and portable ITS elements are important. ITS must be reliable. Parking information is very important to motorists during planned special events and ITS can be used to help direct event attendees to available parking. CMS provide a useful and reliable way to communicate information and manage traffic for planned special events. CCTV provides both an excellent way to monitor traffic and an excellent public relations tool. ITS also enhances personnel resources and may allow for reducing personnel requirements. Interagency coordination is a prerequisite for the use of ITS in planned special events.
CASE STUDY SESSION
Rich Taylor, ITS America, Presiding
The Game Outside the Game
Michael S. Frisbie
City of Phoenix
Mike Frisbie discussed the downtown traffic management system in Phoenix and how it is used for events at the Civic Center, Bank One Ballpark, and the America West Arena. He also described the use of the Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R) delivery process, which was used with some elements of the system.
Phoenix currently has a population of some 1.4 million and covers 500 square miles. It is the sixth largest city in the U.S. and is experiencing a tremendous rate of growth.
In 1996, Major League Baseball announced that an expansion team was awarded to Phoenix. At the same time, the Sunburst Traffic Management Plan was being developed focusing on the downtown area. A downtown traffic management system was being considered for a number of reasons. The three major event facilities, Bank One Ballpark, the America West Arena, and the Civic Center, are all located in downtown Phoenix. Events at all these facilities generate significant circulation and parking demand. It was also felt that traffic and enforcement staff would benefit from enhanced technical tools to manage traffic for these events.
The Bank One Ballpark has a seating capacity of 53,000 and the America West Arena has a seating capacity of 19,023. The Civic Center contains 375,000 square feet and is being expanded to 900,000 square feet. Identified event traffic management and enforcement needs included enhancements to event ingress and egress, enhancements to event security, and enhancements to interagency coordination.
The downtown traffic management system has two goals. The first goal is to facilitate parking and traffic by equipping police and the traffic management center with ITS tools. The second goal is to expand event management partnerships with police, traffic, and stadium and center management personnel.
The early planning for the design and implementation for the downtown traffic management system began in 1999 and 2000. A design concept report was completed in August 2001 and the final design was completed in August 2001. The CM@R revised design was completed in March 2003. Construction and system acceptance was completed in November 2004.
The downtown traffic management system includes a number of ITS tools. CCTV is used for surveillance. DMS on arterials are used to provide traveler information. Blank out signs, traffic signals, video walls, and integrated central control software are all used to support traffic management.
The CCTV system included the integration of six existing cameras and the deployment of three additional cameras. There is shared control of the cameras for police and traffic management staff. There is also a link to the freeway CCTV system.
Traveler information is provided by two arterial DMS with control shared by police and traffic management staff. There are ongoing tests of freeway DMS coordination.
There are 35 blank out signs used to help manage traffic on the arterials around the event sites. There are 10 ingress and egress scenarios for use with the signs. The system is tied to traffic signals where turn restrictions apply.
Enhancements were also made to the TMC, including video walls at police and TMCs, and integrated control and monitoring software with remote capability. The communication system includes city owned fiber optic, city franchised private sector fiber optic, city owned copper wire, and leased telephone lines.
A number of additional elements are in different phases of planning and development. An operational plan is currently being developed. Contract maintenance is anticipated for most field devices after the warranty period. Adjustments are being made to some scenarios and additional signs are being deployed. Efforts are underway to tie into parking garage and signal systems for traffic and parking data.
CM@R represents an innovative project delivery approach. It included two phases. The first phase, pre-construction services, was completed in August 2003. The second phase, construction services, was completed in November 2004.
The pre-construction services focus on minimizing change orders through value engineering and field verification prior to the construction bid. Competitive bids were received for major components, including software, field construction, and video walls. The CM@R submits a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) upon completion of pre-construction services and bonds all construction. The value engineering outcomes during the preconstruction phase included two items. The blank out sign control replaced the type 170 with programmable logic controller, resulting in cost savings and reducing the sidewalk footprint. The blank out signs were also changed out to light emitting diode (LED) from fiber optic displays. While this change was a good decision, some challenges on sign quality resulted.
During the CM@R construction phase, the project was delivered within the GMP budget. The pre-construction phase reduced the number of change orders typically encountered with this type of project. Overall, the CM@R process worked well for this project.