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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Travel Time on Arterials and Rural Highways: State-of-the-Practice Synthesis on Rural Data Collection Technology

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Travel Time on Arterials and Rural Highways:
State-of-the-Practice Synthesis on Rural Data Collection Technology

5. Report Date

April 2013

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Jeremiah Singer (Westat), A. Emanuel Robinson (Westat), Jessica Krueger (Westat), Jennifer E. Atkinson (SAIC), Matthew C. Myers (SAIC)

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

1600 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20852

1710 SAIC Dr.
McLean, VA 22102

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

United States Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Synthesis Report
August 27, 2012 – April 30, 2013

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

Government Task Monitor (GTM): Jimmy Chu

16. Abstract

Travel time to a destination is a key piece of information that motorists want and need, and is vital for good decision-making by travelers. Technology now makes it feasible to provide drivers with real-time information about how long it takes to reach a given destination. The collection of travel time data is a challenging problem that deserves a systematic review. The purpose of this project was to identify, review, and synthesize information on current and potential future efforts in real-time travel time on rural highways. The current report focuses on rural highway travel time data technology considerations and is not a primer for general travel time best practices. Also, a companion report on arterial travel time data collection technology can be found in Singer, Robinson, Krueger, Atkinson, & Myers (2013). The core of the report discusses available and emerging rural travel time (RTT) data sources as well as implementation considerations, advantages, and limitations of each. These technologies researched include Bluetooth detectors, toll tag readers, in-pavement magnetic detectors, automatic license plate readers (ALPR), machine vision, connected vehicle, radar/microwave/LIDAR, inductive loops, crowdsourcing, and cell phone signal monitoring. Several implementations of RTT data collection are also discussed. In addition, two case studies are reviewed in detail (in Minnesota and Maine). The report then emphasizes key lessons learned based on questions for a practitioner to consider at each step of the planning, implementation, and management process. Although RTT data collection is a relatively new and rapidly evolving area, RTT can be successfully implemented when a project is properly planned and executed. Successful implementers have carefully considered project objectives and have provided detailed implementation plans. Regardless of the latest specific data collection technology, asking the right questions is paramount, beginning with planning, continuing to selection, and culminating with execution and evaluation. Practitioners who focus on asking the right questions and heed lessons learned by colleagues will greatly increase the chances of a successful implementation.

17. Key Words

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), real-time travel time, rural travel time (RTT), travel time data collection technology, Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS), Transportation Management Center (TMC)


18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions.

19. Security Classification (of this report)


20. Security Classification (of this page)


21. No of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)
Reproduction of completed page authorized.

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