Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Rural Data Collection Technology

Contact Information: Operations Feedback at

Printable version [PDF 6.4MB]
You may need the Adobe® Reader® to view the PDF.

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

April 2013

United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration



This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear herein only because they are considered essential to the objective of this document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Table of Contents

[ Technical Report Documentation Page ]   [ Acknowledgements ]   [ List of Acronyms ]

Executive Summary

1. Introduction

1.1 Background and Objectives
1.2 Methodology
1.3 Organization of Synthesis Report

2. Data Source Summaries

2.1 Bluetooth Detection
2.2 Toll Tag Reader
2.3 In-Pavement Magnetic Detectors
2.4 Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR)
2.5 Machine Vision
2.6 Connected Vehicle
2.7 Radar, Microwave, LIDAR (RML)
2.8 Inductive Loops
2.9 Crowdsourcing
2.10 Cell Phone Signal Monitoring

3. Implementations of Rural Travel Time Data Collection

3.1 Minnesota DOT’s I-35 Temporary Travel Times System
3.1.1 Background and Planning
3.1.2 Implementation and Management
3.1.3 Lessons Learned
3.2 Maine DOT’s Use of Variable Speed Limit (VSL) Signs to Provide Real-Time Traveler Information
3.2.1 Background and Planning
3.2.2 Implementation and Management
3.2.3 Future Considerations
3.3 Various Statewide Routes, Wisconsin
3.4 I-45 from Houston to Dallas, Texas
3.5 Various Routes in Oregon, Frontier Travel Time Project
3.6 State Route 520 in Orange County, FL
3.7 I-90, Snoqualmie Pass in Washington
4. Best Practices for Rural Travel Time Data Collection
4.1 Need Assessment, Planning, and Specifications Development
4.2 Selecting and Acquiring Data Collection Technology
4.3 Implementation, Management, and Evaluation

5. Conclusion


List of Figures

Figure 1. RTT Signs in Washington State

Figure 2. TrafficCast’s BlueTOAD Pole-mounted, Solar-powered Bluetooth Detector and Cabinet Interior

Figure 3. Toll Tag Reader (AVI) in Houston, TX

Figure 4. Sensys Sensor

Figure 5. Typical Sensys Implementation Showing Sensor Array, Repeater, and Access Point

Figure 6. ALPR Illumination (foreground) and Camera (background) Used in a Work Zone On Arizona State Route 68

Figure 7. Project Location and Minnesota State Route 23

Figure 8. Travel Time Sign Located Near 40th Avenue on I-35 in Duluth

Figure 9. Travel Time Sign Locations and Messages on I-35

Figure 10. Maine DOT’s 511 Traveler Information Map Showing the I-95 Corridor

Figure 11. State of Maine Variable Speed Sign

Figure 12. Examples of Rural Freeway Travel Time Coverage in Wisconsin

Figure 13. Two Examples of AWAM Bluetooth Sensors

Figure 14. Houston TranStar I-45 Traffic Map

Figure 15. Orange County Road Network

Figure 16. Typical Display Format of OOCEA Travel Time Sign

Figure 17. Snoqualmie Pass Traffic Map

Figure 18. Travel Time Sign Approaching Snoqualmie Pass

List of Tables

Table 1. Candidate RTT Technologies

Table 2. Table of Search Terms and Categories

Table 3. Candidate RTT Technologies

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Toll-Free "Help Line" 866-367-7487

April 2013