Work Zone ITS Overview Webinar January 30, 2014
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to today's webinar on the work zone Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's webinar.
Please note that there are two polling questions up on the screen now. I invite you to respond so that we get an idea of the audience's familiarity with ITS. One question asks if your agency has ever used work zone ITS, while the other asks if your agency is currently using work zone ITS.
Today's webinar is scheduled to last 90 minutes. We will have three presenters, Tracy Scriba of the Federal Highway Administration, Jerry Ullman of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Ted Nemsky of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
If during the presentation you think of a question, please type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone". Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but we'll take about 10 minutes after Tracy and Jerry give their presentations to answer questions, and then will use the remaining time after Ted's presentation for questions. If we run out of time and there are unanswered questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters that will be emailed to all attendees.
The PowerPoint presentations used during the webinar are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentations will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript of today's webinar. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.
We're now going to go ahead and get started with our first presenter, Tracy Scriba of the Federal Highway Administration. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentations please type them into the chat box and they will be addressed following each presentation.
Thank you Jennifer. Just a comment on the polling questions, it looks like we have a range of experience today with work zone ITS. We have some who have not used it at all, some of you have used it a good bit, and some have used it quite a lot. So we are in a range there, so I think hopefully the information today will provide something for everyone at those various different points of experience with work zone ITS.
I'm going to kick this off with an overview of work zone ITS, what it is and what kind of applications there are, and then introduce some new Federal Highway resources and then turn it over to Jerry who's going to talk in detail about one of the resources and then Ted who is going to talk about a particular case study that was one application we used in developing the resources. As far as my presentation, like I mentioned, it will give an overview of work zone ITS and cover these topics.
What is work zone ITS? Essentially just like ITS used outside of a work zone it involves to communications-based information and electronics technologies. Of course it's uses in and around work zones if it is work zone ITS. The intent is to improve, or maintain safety, mobility and/or customer satisfaction. Or at least particularly in the case mobility keep them from degrading too much during construction. Typically it involves some element of portable and temporary components and those can be combined with permanent ITS. We used a pretty broad definition I think as we looked at these resources we were developing so it is possible that work zone ITS might include use of permanent ITS solely during road construction particularly to help with maintaining or improving work zone safety and mobility and customer satisfaction. It is also possible that it may involve acquiring data, purchasing data from a third-party that has some of this type of equipment or technology already deployed. It is kind of the definition of work zone ITS has expanded I think a little bit over the last 10 or so years. So that gets at the acquired indirectly in the last bullet.
What are the components to work zone ITS? Just like other ITS there are sensors that gather information on traffic conditions. There is communications equipment that transmits that data for processing and then software algorithms that process or analyze the data and also store the data. And of course there's different degrees to which like for data storage, archiving can be short-term or long-term for example, so there's different variations on each of these. There's the equipment to in some fashion disseminating information to end-users. That maybe may be to users along road side, it may be to DOT agency employees or other vendors or subcontractors with the construction contractor that will use that information to help manage the traffic in the work zone and communicate information to decision-makers such as road users and those in the DOT authority chain. The electronic equipment can also, based on traffic conditions, be used to implement traffic controller management decisions automatically. So perhaps with certain kinds of systems indicate that merging should occur earlier or later and that may be triggered automatically based on conditions and that helps with traffic control, for example.
I mentioned earlier that we've expanded the definition maybe a little bit of what would be in work zone ITS over the last decade and I just want to talk a little bit about what that evolution and about the history of it. I would say earlier on 10 years ago with work zone ITS there were a handful of companies and this is just generalizing it but there were handful of companies each with maybe one to a few products and they often were set products. They tended to be more systems and there wasn't as much flexibility maybe to pick and choose components and plug them in with existing systems or permanent infrastructure that already existed. To some degree each deployment was an adventure or an experiment, and often agencies didn't have a lot of experience using ITS particularly in work zone environment that has a lot of changing traffic configurations, a lot of equipment going back and forth and other things that make it a bit more, complicated than a more stable permanent ITS environment. There was a lot of learning that went on. One other thing that was apparent at that point is it seemed like there was not enough thought put into systems in terms of what issues do I have and what would really help me address those effectively. Sometimes unfortunately that led to early on as many failures perhaps as successes. And again these are general, some agencies had more experience and more success than maybe other ones did. I heard a number of stories of an agency that may be tried it in that era and didn't have a good experience and maybe put it aside for a while and didn't try it again for a while.
I think it has evolved. I think we now have a broader range of products and technologies available, there is more scalability and flexibility to what is available and how we can use it and make it coordinate better with permanent ITS, for example. I think generally speaking the use of ITS in the work zone has been better planned in more recent years. There is more thought be given to it and a lot of lessons learned that have been applied that might lead to less adventure and more successes.
That leads to why consider using work zone ITS now? Maybe even if you tried it before and had too much of an adventure I would say for these various reasons that I have outlined, you've got more options available. I think you've got more price ranges to consider for deployment, you've got different types of technology with things like Bluetooth that have come out now that have different price points and add additional flexibilities that can be deployed maybe more quickly in terms of how the options are provided. So I think it really has matured from the earlier stage. You get much more system up time and less issues with downtime. I think that's a key thing to the reliability of the system. Also I think there is a rage of potential benefits that come from work zone ITS and I will touch on those in a second, but I think that certainly a consideration for using work zone ITS now and the fact is work zone challenges remain. We still have challenges in our work zones. We still have too many people dying and particularly in certain work zone situations extensive congestion that can cause quite a problem with regional mobility.
I'm going to briefly touch on what some of these challenges are and how ITS can fit in. For example congestion and work zone. Some of the types of things that can come from congestion and works zone are end of queue crashes. Of course delays and those types of things tend to lead to dissatisfied motorists and if it is unpredictable travel that can particularly affect commercial vehicles. There is difficulty when there's a lot of congestion in getting emergency vehicles in there if they need to respond to an incident and it can even affect productivity of a work zone and the contractor access to bringing in materials.
Some of the types of ways ITS can help with that are things like speed detection and warning systems that can help detect congestion and make an alert to that and send that to motorists approaching. Traveler information systems which can encourage diversion when delays are starting to build, for example, when there are diversion routes available. It can provide information that can help determine best times to work and best times for delivery in a particular area.
Another challenge in work zones is speed management and how do we properly set speed limits and ensure compliance with speed limits. Are there any places for law enforcement to station themselves safely and to be able to pull over speeders, those are often constraints of work zones. ITS can help with some of those situations. There are speed monitoring systems that can help provide information and feedback to drivers when they are speeding or can be used to provide alerts to say this work zone has a speeding problem maybe we should use some of our limited law enforcement resources in this particular location. Variable speed limit systems that can help in terms of reacting and changing speed limits based on traffic conditions and automated enforcement systems where laws allow.
Crashes of course in work zones, we have concerns about that. The timeliness of incident -- response can affect what the effect of the impact of the crashes is particularly in terms of secondary crashes and how quickly congestion builds. Issues with vehicles intruding into the workspace, there are some ITS devices that can help with that and then work vehicle access and egress is another situation where we've got slow moving trucks entering the traffic stream are exiting the traffic stream and can we alert drivers to that. ITS can help with that. You see on the slide there's an image of an alternating sign that is one form of ITS that indicates trucks are entering, and that could be setup to automatically trigger that sign when the truck breaks through a certain location where there's a sensor to indicate that's happening, the truck is entering.
Lastly I wanted to mention for performance monitoring there is often a lack of data to understand how we're we are doing in our work zones. Are we having a speeding issue out there, are we causing extensive queues? It is expensive for personnel to go out and manually collect data and often staff is restricted. So ITS can help with that situation as well. It can also help with better understanding how effective work zone strategies are and if the work windows we set for projects was appropriate, maybe we were able to handle the congestion well because we were doing a good public information program and maybe we can allow one more hour of work period for the contractor, for example. The systems automatically gather a lot of data and content archiving parameters for that and this information can be used to help with these issues.
This is just a sampling of some of the benefits that have been found, this was a study done a few years ago that actually looked over a range of evaluations not one single study generally speaking and it shows you that drivers generally consider the information they got. One qualitative thing came out of that study as well was that generally felt safer when they have some of this information. Of course that's a very subjective criteria, but 50 to 85% of drivers said if they had information when they had the information that showed significant delays they would try and change their route. Queue length reduction was potentially significant and those are quite large numbers but they factor into people avoiding the area all together, people diverting and better traffic management that can come from having more data about the traffic conditions out there. Then some of the other ones I mentioned speed reductions, particularly on vehicles going significantly over the speed limit.
I've given you an overview of how ITS can be used to address specific challenges. There is a range as I mentioned there of types of applications. I'm going to show examples of a few in brief. Dynamic lane merge systems are one that can monitor traffic and based on congestion levels give indications about when to merge. For example if congestion may be building, there may be a message that would come up that would indicate you should use both lanes to the merge point, for example, so queues don't build up so fast. Whereas when congestion is lower it can be more effective to merge early so that there aren't people coming in and disrupting traffic flow. Essentially it is intended to improve safety and smooth traffic. As I mentioned, I've tried to include on the slides a degree of views. I would say it is been used in a few states, I just mentioned a few that have used it, that's not to say they are necessarily using it currently.
Traveler information, this is probably the most basic of work zone ITS but it can have complex algorithms to decide what messages to display and how to calculate travel times based on sensor locations. This has been used in many states.
Kind of an offshoot of that is ITS for route choice, providing travel times in this case along an arterial on the interstate while there was construction going on the interstate. This is an example from Utah but basically the sign on the left is showing if you turn here to go to the interstate you will take you 60 minutes to get to Lehi, if you go straight it will take you 21 minutes and those numbers would change based on traffic conditions. That's been used in several states in some form, I wouldn't say so much with this type of sign but more the regular changeable message signs that may indicate the time on different routes. I know Michigan has used that as well.
Then mitigating end of queue crashes, based on speeds ahead sending alerts like seen here for slow traffic ahead so that drivers have more time to stop. This can be helpful in rural areas where there's less expectation of delays or for commercial vehicles that do need additional time to stop. So it is been used in several states including Illinois, which we will hear about from Ted, and Texas, among others.
And then automated speed enforcement. This is a listing of the number of states that have used it or are working on being able to use it. Using technology it detects speeders and then to be able to with human review typically issue some tickets through the mail, avoiding the issues of needing to stop somebody in the work zone itself.
Performance monitoring and management. This is a brief example from Ohio. This is using slightly historical INRIX data looking at how many time periods had vehicle traffic under 25 miles an hour in the work zone, which is the area between those two vertical bars. You can see the one with the yellow dots is the historic preconstruction and the colored areas are how much increase it shows you during different months during construction. That can help to identify is this more than what was expected, or are there issues we can try to address in the field.
To close I want to mention a few words on ITS efforts, FHWA has been looking at the use of ITS in work zones for about 10 years now at different points in time. The current projects that are about to come out and be published are an implementation guide and a case study document. We have done some case studies in the past as you can see the bright orange one there. We did have a peer exchange peer exchange and there's a summary report of that. From the peer exchange held last year in May we have some findings from that including what some agencies found as potential barriers and some possible solutions to some of those. We have a leaflet summarizing the state of the practice which is the other document shown in a snapshot, as well as a few of these other things on there. We have done and are doing some looking at how can we use the connected vehicle developing area to deliver work zone information to vehicles and to make work zones safer and operate more effectively.
The case studies show basically how ITS can be used to address specific issues in a work zone. They outlay how does the agency decide to use it and how do they go through a traditional systems engineering design process to develop their requirements and how it was in implementation. So those examples have been used in the implementation guide in various places. This gives you an idea of what the case studies were. We tried to cover a range of potential topics in using permanent ITS, using it for performance specification, for route choice, and for end of queue detection to avoid crashes.
These are the types of areas that are discussed for each case study as it walks to the process for engineering design. You can see a snapshot from a map used in the I-15 project in Utah which is one of the case studies.
Lastly the implementation guide. Essentially we developed that to help practitioners effectively use ITS but to consider as one of the many tools available for work zone safety and mobility management. It focuses more on the process how do you decide what you need to think about, what are considerations from needs assessment through evaluation. The information in that comes from 5 case studies that were done for this project and from the peer exchange that we held last year and from prior research that we have done.
I want to make a few key points before handing it off to Jerry about the guide and one was that it does not prescribe warrants for use like in these situations you need to use work zone ITS or should use work zone ITS. We don't take it to that level, we more provide examples of ways agencies can come up with those kind of criteria for themselves. We provide one example of a potential way you can look at certain criteria for certain factors and score it and say in this situation we think this would be really useful. We also provide a table that shows if I have this kind of issue or project characteristic than this kind of system might be one I want to look at. We provide a few examples those are meant to be examples to help agencies consider coming up with their own way of deciding that.
The other point I want to make is it is really one strategy in the toolbox. It is the one we are focusing on today but in reality good work zone management needs a combination of strategies, and the strategies should be chosen to solve specific problems, specific issues you think you're going to have out there. It is going to be more effective if that's the case. The strategies work together, including ITS, so we shouldn't consider them independently. The guide encourages consideration of all strategies, including ITS, as part of good impacts assessment process to identify issues and a TMP develop process to select the strategies for the transportation management plan. It should fit in with the existing processes to do that and not be a whole separate independent process. And just bottom line the guide is predicated on better planning increases the likelihood you will have of a successful deployment. That's based on just talking to a lot of people it seems like that kind of goes hand-in-hand.
That's the end of my presentation. I will hand it over to Jerry for talking in more detail about the guide.
All right, thank you, Tracy. Next we will have Jerry Ullman of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Jerry you can go ahead.
Thanks, Jennifer. Good afternoon, good morning, I'm glad to have the opportunity to talk a few minutes about one of the products that Tracy mentioned that is imminently going to be available to you all, this implementation guide. It is in its final stages of preparation for publication. We've worked with Battelle and Tracy putting this together and hope that it is a tool that many of you find valuable as you move further into the work zone ITS arena.
I want to reiterate the focus is on the process like Tracy mentioned. That we focused on a systems engineering problem solving process as opposed to those of you that our experts in ITS arena what you think of as systems engineering and that V-shaped diagram, we are not going to that level, this is much more of a higher level problem-solving approach. But the intent is to show that you can integrate considerations of work zone ITS as part of your work zone planning, design, implementation and actually through completion and have a higher probability of it making a difference to your constituents, a better, safer product and that kind of thing.
Just a couple of points I want to make and we are going to go through the next few slides the overall implementation process itself. But one of the things we try to do in this guide is also make it useful as a look back guide and towards that end we've incorporated a couple of things that you see on this particular slide that are call outs and we have several different kinds, the key points are those that as we went to put in his together we said there was really important, it should be reiterated, it is in the text, but it is something that should be getting out of that discussion of the text that we have in there. We also have tips, those are maybe more ancillary but there sort of you might want to think about this ended some cases this might be something that you might want to consider or need to consider but it is not rising to the level of everybody should worry about this type of issue or this particular point. We also have at the end of each of the chapters or each of the steps in the process that we will talk about some key takeaways. They will be in some cases reiterations of some of the key points and in some cases they're in there to help tie everything that's in there together up to the particular steps so you make sure you've got the overall gist of what's trying to be portrayed in that particular step or section. Then Tracy mentioned we have tried to incorporate plenty of examples, both case studies that we've recently done as part of this implementation guide development as well as some of those that were done and documented under previous case study evaluations. So that there is a tie to when we say a particular step or this is important that you can find here's why we think it is important, for example that folks in Utah, what was important for them to incorporate operations folks early in the process and what they needed to do. You will find these kind of examples throughout the document.
The process itself, I indicated it is a traditional systems engineering problem solving approach that most of you all probably are fairly or if not quite familiar at least fairly familiar with starting with the needs assessment to concept development, detailed system planning, procurement, deployment and then operating and maintaining and evaluating what you ended up putting out. We've got the next few slides I'm going to go into more detail on each of these.
Step one, assessment of need. One of the things we focus pretty heavily on in the first step is the recognition that indeed jumping right to an ITS option is really not what you are doing here. This is really the independent of technology, independent of even solutions, you really want to make sure that you have a good handle on what the needs are from the user. It could be the agency themselves, could be the contractor, could be the traveling public obviously, could be local businesses and residences. But truly understanding what are the issues, what are the problems, what am I worried about and getting those down, specified at a precise enough level that you can make decisions as to whether ultimately in future steps an ITS type of solution makes sense or if it is a type of solution where some other type of mitigation strategies are more appropriate that you can distinguish and make those kinds of decisions. So we have the needs, trying to identify whenever when we say system it is really not an ITS system this point, it is the solution system with the mitigating strategies solution that you are trying to talk about at this level, what are you trying to accomplish, what are the high level goals, down to the specific objectives tied to the user needs. We emphasize the importance of stakeholders, identifying who those are and getting and recognizing at some point you need to make sure you've got their buy in, that they are on board, and also aware of what you are trying to accomplish.
Project team, a little bit about when you're putting a team together to work on this overall solution or set of solutions. And then early on in the process it is important to be aware of your entire corridor, your resources that are available for where the project is going to be and in particular the availability of existing ITS. Tracy mentioned years ago the amount of ITS equipment technology on the deployments nationally was not nearly where it is today. We have most of our major metropolitan areas have quite evolved, elaborate transportation management systems, centers with quite a bit of instrumentation, software, all the things that go into an ITS system. And it is important to be cognizant and not only just cognizant but thinking in terms of how does that overall permanent system can or need to relate to my project. The other thing that's important at this point is the picture below you are also thinking about the area of influence, it all goes back to who are the users and what are their needs. One of the things that's important is understanding to some extent or to a large extent the expanded time, space of potential impacts. An example here , work zones on the freeway but because we expect congestion developing during certain periods of time we expect queuing to back up over the upstream interchanges which in turn are likely to affect the surrounding surface streets and in particular the intersections and so when you start thinking about what kinds of needs there are the needs will be beyond just the freeway users, it is also the surface street users as well.
This particular step we iterate the fact that we do have the end in mind, you want to be careful not to get so tied up in details at this point that you don't remember that ultimately this is a project that has to be accomplished, has a lot of competing and interrelated goals and objectives for getting the work done and getting the roadway back to use of the public in an improved state is ultimately the end and as you look towards that if you want to make sure that you keep that in mind. Realistic expectations need to be kept in check. Some of the earlier experiences that Tracy had mentioned there wasn't I think a solid handle on what to expect. My classic example is if you're going to be doing some major reconstruction and you're going to be narrowing lanes, you're going to be putting barriers right next to the travel lanes where there used to be a large encroachment places for recovery in case of loss of control, those kinds of things and you don't have that anymore, to expect that you are not going to have some increase in crashes is probably not realistic. What you want to do is minimize the increase in crashes, for example. Same thing in the mobility expectations, or customer level customer satisfaction.
Involving stakeholders early, it is important and something we do also mention in several points in the guide is this shouldn't be done independently. Realistically if it is being done the right way this is all being done as part of the transportation management plan process that is required on federal aid projects, significant projects and hopefully agencies are becoming more and more comfortable with doing these and doing them for the intent that they are intended which is to help manage impacts to the extent we can minimize those impacts.
The next step in the process is concept development and feasibility. This is the point at which the idea regarding work zone ITS are raised and vetted and you work towards identifying which approach or approaches makes the most sense. It starts with an overall concept of operations where you're not necessarily pinning down device technologies and those kinds of things but you are raising that this may be something that ITS could help me with. I've got a potential crash problem that I've seen from past projects. I have issues with respect to rear end crashes, that's a simple example of that, how can I deal with that, I need something that I believe to help me more notify upstream drivers when and where I have that congestion. You start then moving to solutions, pinning down some options that you might have. You want to get early in the process some thoughts to what I think I'm going to get out of that in terms of potential benefits, this shouldn't be just a deployment of equipment for the sake of deployment we should have some expectation of what we can do in terms of improvement.
2.4 is how much of an improvement cost using some primary costing numbers. Institutional and jurisdictional challenges are very important to consider and to think about at this point. The I-15 example in Utah is a classic example. They needed to link a number of city signal systems in order to come up with a coordinated way to manage their surface streets during certain portions of the I-15 project they get people from one end of the project to the other while passing through several jurisdictions. The folks on board to adopt a centralized control approach that gave each city primary control but allowed for coordinated decisions to be made. That's important.
Depending on the type of technology being thought about there may be some legal issues, policy issues, things like variable speed limits may or may not be currently allowed by state regulation or state law, may have to be changed, those kinds of things. And then some thought about project feasibility, how do we decide whether this project is feasible or not, what will designate feasibility to me when I'm doing my investigation or my analysis of options. And also getting back to the stakeholders at the end figuring out how to present and to generate, get the buy-in from those stakeholders. It may be internal to your organization, may also be external to other agencies and stakeholders.
On of the things that I did want to reiterate that Tracy touched upon is we have expanded significantly from the early days of work zone ITS when it was just the smart work zone idea that I think many people referred to now as the initiation of the work zone ITS concept. There are a number of vendors that are now marketing what we refer to as commercial off-the-shelf products, systems, if you will that have gone through significant amount of evolution. They work very well for their intents for design and offer a good alternative to agencies and contractors to give a number of impacts that may be want to address. The next level is the ITS or customized ITS. As states and contractors become more familiar with what ITS can be used for, we see more and more unique applications to meet very specific needs and issues. Integrating the existing ITS infrastructure into a particular project whether it is on the edge of the surveillance or current coverage of the permanent system or it is within the coverage but not monitored at a precise enough level that supplemental surveillance needs to be added those are some of the examples of how you might move to a more customized solution as a work zone ITS application. And certainly in the proliferation the expansion of availability of private sector data both probe data as well as a number of vendors now that are selling other types of data in exchange for access to highway infrastructure. They put up spot sensors within the highway right-of-way and provide that data.
This particular step I think the important thing to keep in mind that we note that not all the deployments have to be complicated and expensive. We've got a very precise specific issue. You can come up with a specific simple ITS solution. Obviously there's no reason to make it more complicated then he needs to be. The second bullet is interesting. We saw in some of the case studies instances where we think there would be good coordination within an agency between project development and project staff and technical staff as it relates to ITS. You don't always see that and the result is a less than optimum deployment of a work zone ITS so making sure that if that's a solution or possible solution being contemplated that the internal agency expertise in this area is brought on board to provide input and maybe to coordinate and help figure out what's the best way that we can synergistically work with each other to be very important.
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on step three, this is the detailed system planning and design. I encourage you all when document is available to review it. It follows a traditional design step-by-step design process including specs, system design itself, testing some plans for operations. You can see the steps there, the key thing is what gets done in each of these substeps really depends on earlier whether you're talking about a customized solution or talking about a commercial off-the-shelf product. For the off the shelf products, a lot of this has already been done, the design maybe is simple as figuring out what are the limits that I need to cover, maybe a little bit about how closely I want to space sensors if I'm going to go that route, those kinds of things. That's the design part. If it is a more customized solution, certainly you are into more details with respect to installation, communication, all those kinds of things become much more elaborate process. One of the key things that I highlight or want to point out here is the recognition of the evaluation is important and planning for it in step three for when you get to it in late, it helps you a lot with what you need to have on hand and what you need to keep when you get to system operation.
Our fourth step is one of the more useful sections to those on the webinar today. We spent quite a bit of time looking at how agencies are obtaining this equipment and you see a wide range of options and approaches. Whether the agency is directly procuring it for its own use or if it is doing it indirectly through other means and how to figure out how to find the best solution or find the best product within the existing agency contracting mechanism and award mechanisms can be very I won't say convoluted but it can be very complex. We've tried to simplify it to some extent and that what you need to be doing from a procurement standpoint probably starts with an understanding of what you need to do from your ITS solution standpoint. Certainly commercial off-the-shelf products you tend to see that being something that's maybe more indirectly obtained as part of the construction project and it is placed on the contractors to-do list to find and get a system in place. A customize solution may be because of depending on whether the agency wants to retain the capabilities that are being introduced during the project once the project is completed maybe they will go ahead and go through the procurement process themselves. So you can see the type starts or initiates the decision process, you've got both direct and indirect procurement methods, indirect means the agency itself is not going to be the one that is ultimately doing all the development and selection of the products at least directly and paying for it directly out of its own funds. It is more as part of project expenditures or in some other ways you can see there. The award mechanism once the procurement method has been determined and the type of product that you are trying to get, any of these award mechanisms may be appropriate and there needs to be some discussion as to which of those fits, which of the scenarios that would be present.
Some of the key things to take way out of that step, we try to simplify the procurement process but as I said earlier it can be somewhat complex. It doesn't have to be traditional, follow a traditional approach. We've seen examples where hybrid approaches have shown worked quite well. Again I will reiterate the importance of having your own internal agency expertise with respect to ITS. So procurement issues that have may have already been experienced in other projects can be minimized or even eliminated. We do see that usually it is beneficial if you can to have the ITS needs or what you want spelled out early as part of the initial bid documents for a contract. Once you get it to change orders it becomes more challenging just because you are changing the rules of the game in mid-and so both the cost as well as what's going to be done are a little more constrained. That being said, it doesn't mean that change orders aren't important. In fact they may be, as project needs change you need to be flexible to incorporate additional capabilities or even equipment whatever it takes is can also be important. Private sector data is getting a lot of attention. Particularly the mobility, the probe vehicle data. So your desire from an ITS standpoint is mainly for performance monitoring or measurement maybe this is the right kind of data. If it is for something else to run or disseminate and execute certain management control strategies, the key is you've got to match the data that you want and need with your goals and objectives.
Next step is deployment. At this point you are going out and moving in and getting things in place. Scheduling becomes very critical, the specification testing times and those kinds of things, really have to be realistic and matched with the overall project schedule itself. A lot of times by the time the decision is made the equipment is already available and the project is already underway so your ability to test and adjust may be hampered. On the other hand equipment in place too early, you get worried about duration, durability of equipment.
Adequate start up time and calibration as I just mentioned is a key step under this particular step and depending on the type of project, where you are at in the process when you finally make the decision. If the work zone ITS solution is determined to be needed you can get it in much quicker than maybe you would otherwise but if you're going to do that if it has to be something that is rushed in it is going to more resources both financially as well as personnel and keep that in mind. Obviously the earlier in the process you could make these decisions and start the process better off you'll probably be.
New technologies goes without saying. The commercial off-the-shelf products that are using tried-and-true technologies they know their stuff, they've been tweaked pretty well. As you get moving to newer technology that we've got less experience with, it will take more time to really understand how they operate, take more time to tweak them, calibrate them, if you will, to get them to achieve performance levels that you want.
Finally you got the system is in place or systems in some cases and then you are working through and keeping it up and running and having it mitigate the issues that you had in place. One thing to keep in mind is the work zone conditions, work zones are dynamic just by nature and keeping in mind what your project characteristics are, adjusting the system and major traffic control switches and those kinds of things. It is going to be a significant component and something to make sure you've got adequate resources allocated to dealing with that.
Leveraging public support is very important at this point. The efforts gone into putting out a system and making sure the people or the constituents that they are going to benefit are aware of this and take advantage of the effort to deploy is important. Press releases, other types of showcase events, media to make sure the public is truly aware of what's going on is critical. As is monitoring and evaluation. One of the things that I think has traditionally other than for the case studies that you've seen documented the effort to go back and write down what actually was done, what worked and didn't work and getting that written up is critical to help not only others in the profession learn but you're own agency to be able to go back and say this is what we did, this is what we found, this worked, we would've done this differently, if I did this again I'd do that differently. This continuous improvement process is very important.
With that, my last set of tips here, all the way through the completion of the project managing expectations is very critical. A queue warning system is intended to reduce the likelihood of rear end crashes and severe crashes. It shouldn't be sold as a way to completely eliminate crashes because that's really hard to do and if you set yourself up as that's what that's for and there happens to be a crash it is going to be tough to explain why the system didn't work. And the system may still have been working exactly as intended and may maybe doing a significant benefit but if the expectation was more than what it could do, you are on the wrong side of the battle right away. Accuracy of information continues to be and it is been ever since we've got into real time travel time information back in the 60s that continues to be a key point is making sure the system is providing accurate information, reliable and that it is something that the public can depend on. With that, I think that's all I had. Are we taking questions now, Jennifer?
Yes, we will now take about 10 minutes of questions or we will see what we can get through to before we move on to our last presentation. Jerry let me start with a few questions for you. The first one is when will the work zone ITS Implementation Guide be available?
Maybe I should answer that one. The content of the guide has been fully approved here at Federal Highway and so it is just a matter of finalizing the layout and the HTML version to post online and I expect it will be available probably before the recording is available for this. So it should be in the next couple of weeks.
Jerry can you elaborate on what you meant by a hybrid approach to procurement?
When I refer to that, the slide I had up there that pointed to types of systems, methods of obtaining or procuring indirect or direct from an agency standpoint and then ultimately the award mechanisms. Those were examples of ways we've seen it done. We don't know that they all have to be, particularly on a given project, one or the other kind of thing. A classic example would be you are doing an expansion or you're going to enhance aspects of your permanent ITS system. You are going to put up some permanent equipment because you've had it at spacings and surveillance, maybe you didn't have cameras and you want to add a camera because it would help you to monitor construction but at the same time when the project is over you want to leave the camera in place. You might say I'm going to do it as a purchase through my existing ITS procurement process and maybe I want to put in a temporary ramp metering aspect at one ramp because I have a backup issue that I'm worried about, I really don't want to keep it but I want to be able to adequately access it during construction and then they go away. That one I maybe look toward a leasing arrangement for that or maybe I add that into my bid document for my contractor to help procure as part of the project. It can be alternative combinations and that's why we've refer to it as a hybrid.
Jerry, did you mentioned the consulting "on-call" type vehicle?
I did not mention that, that is included in the guide, that's a good point. That is in some cases agencies have looked to procuring equipment themselves and then having somebody on-call to disseminate it for them or put it out and operate in that kind of stuff as well. That will be another example of a hybrid kind of approach.
Jennifer SymounThank you, Jerry. Tracy, we have a few questions for you. The first one I believe is when you are talking about the different types of ITS, would we want cameras and road conditions sensors as well?
Certainly. Those can be included in the system depending on the system. I know cameras have often been very helpful enabling agencies to get a visual when they start getting certain data saying there is an issue out there. Getting in to see if it's an incident or to see if there's construction equipment or what might be causing an issue out there can be very helpful. I didn't spend a lot of time discussing sensors, I was using it very broadly but it would certainly include a whole range of types of sensors including condition sensors, traffic sensors, visual sensors like cameras so yes.
You had a slide on the benefits of ITS, do you know where the deployments are located?
The deployments, I think it is more the resources looking at, but we have a good number of them on the link that Jennifer posted in the chat pod. The leaflet that I showed near the latter part of the presentation, the printed version is four pages but the online one I think it is eight pages and that one includes source information for all the stuff that was cited in the leaflet. And on the first page of the leaflet was a summary of some higher level statistics like I used on that slide. That would be a good place to get the reference information I used for a lot of those but also on the webpage we have a good number of them listed on there. And often the links to many of the studies.
Has AM radio recorded messaging been used to inform the travelling public of potential traffic snags?
I guess I'm wondering if, I'm not positive if this is referring to highway advisory radio. If it is then yes definitely, it has been used to transmit traveler information including in work zone situations. I think I only mentioned highway advisory radio by abbreviation on one of my slides. But if that's what's been referred to, yes, that approach has been used and I think it is still to some degree being used in certain locations.
Jerry, did you want to add anything to that?
No, there have been some examples. I haven't seen as much recently, but certainly in the past they've been used.
Someone asked about work zone ITS training resources for training personnel. I posted links to the training page and training compendium on the Federal Highway the website but Tracy or Jerry is there anything else you wanted to add?
I will mention from a high-level the compendium Jennifer mentioned, which we have a link to the compendium right on the homepage of the work zone website, does have a specific page on work zone ITS, but more of the actual training items that we list under there are actually broader ITS training resources that we thought would be relevant whether in work zone or not. Then we also have guides on there and printed materials and those tend to be more relevant, more specific to work zone ITS. The other thing I would point to are things like from the peer exchange we held May 2013 on our peer to peer program webpage on the website, I think we are missing a link to that from the ITS page, we have the summary and all the presentations that were given at the work zone ITS peer exchange last May. So I would say those types of materials are probably more indicative of what training is available. As far as a specific course on work zone ITS, I know it is been considered at times, I'm not aware there's a specific one, but Jerry, are you aware of something?
I'm not. I probably should've come better prepared about that. I would suggest maybe taking a look at the work zone Clearinghouse. There's a section on training that you can take a look at and see if there's any agencies that are putting anything together that we are aware of.
Thank you both. We're going we are going to move on now to our last presentation, given by Ted Nemsky of the Illinois Department of Transportation and we will take questions for Ted following his presentation. Ted, I will bring up your presentation now and you can go ahead.
Okay, thank you. Good afternoon, everybody. I'm the construction engineer for an IDOT district office in Southern Illinois near St. Louis. I don't proclaim to be an expert in ITS but I've been asked to share our experiences with ITS and also share our analysis of how we think it works.
This is what I put together to go over. These are the topics I want to hit on. First what is a Smart work zone which I guess the first two presenters went over that quite a bit but I wanted to go over what we in IDOT see as our Smart work zone. And then where is IDOT using Smart work zones and how is this determined, so how do we determine where use them. What drove us to this point? We had some issues and we thought we wouldn't do it but then we ended up doing some more later on. I will go over that. And are Smart Work zones worth the cost?
This is right off the Federal Highway website just giving a definition. I know the first two presentations we went over that but I think the important part to remember is it needs to be real time, needs to be portable, automated and reliable.
Then the smart work zone component that we deal with closely were the Doppler speed detectors. I think we are starting to get into some Bluetooth technology traffic sensors. Message boards and color message boards. Radar speed trailers, IDOT, the Bureau of Safety began requiring the use of these in the 2013 construction season and I would like to say if other states or agencies aren't using these, we have noticed that traffic is slowing down using these. The cameras, there was a question asked about cameras. We have used those on a couple projects and we have found them to be useful for incident management as well when you do have an accident or something it is easy to help manage and get the resources out there. And our resident engineers, the people on a project have also found those were useful for getting around backups and things.
Most of the systems include some sort of software interface for the authorized user and this is one example of one. They provide some sort of visual interface to see message displays and speed sensors and everything that all the components that go along with the system.
Most include some logic and with the logic comes a number of decisions that need to be made when setting up a system like this. One of them is if you look over here the priority on the far left you have the priority messages. The first system says stopped traffic ahead, be prepared to stop that's the default that will go there first. If there's no message to be displayed there then it goes to the next one which is the delay, there's none there and you get a considerable delay it will go to considering alternate routes. If you look here that's the first priority, second priority and then if it needs an alternate route after that it will go here. Our system, a couple that we've used we've set up with the trigger of 40-mile an hour so it gets speed slows down less than 40 mph you get prepared to stop and you can see on here we have an alternate route that takes 20 minutes to drive so when you hit a point where the delay time is more than 23 minutes we have a switch and suggest using an alternate route.
Then you have a question of what to do when you don't have any messages to put out there. We wanted, we had this question come up, and we wanted to see do we leave the board dark but then you get calls because people say what you have these boards are here, they are dark so we chose the option if you go to the right you can see we have four quarters and it flashes alternately between four quarters and a blank board so when we would see that as you're driving down the road we know that our boards are online and working. When we saw a blank board then we'd know that the board was not operational.
And almost all the software is capable of providing a suitable amount of data analysis if the system functions like for example this one was prepared to stop conditions for the month of August. You can see at one of the boards and mile marker 21.6 that board went into prepared to stop mode 90 times that month. By prepared to stop mode I was referring to if the sign flashes signed prepared to stop or stop traffic ahead, it flashes between those two.
Another decision is how to communicate delay times to motorists. Motorist from outside the area typically need different information than locals since they are readily aware of time to different interchanges or things like that so hence for locals we found it useful to include delay, no delay information to the next interchange. In this case we had no delays flashing with To I-270/70 interchange.
For the through travelers we found it most useful to include delay times through the entire work zone so we would alternate the message from next 16 miles two minute delay and that would tell the through travelers how long it is to get through the work zone. We would alternate these with the first two message center locations we would alternate between this and the previous slide which then gave you the delay times to the next interchange.
How do we determine when IDOT using smart work zones? Currently we don't have a policy for the use of smart work zones. We are working on one, but in the past what we've done is it is been a project by project basis based on them the knowledge of the project area, traffic accidents and sight distance issues. Queuing analysis we did those for all interstate projects. They involve considerable construction and we've only used them on interstate projects to this point that I'm aware of. We are working to develop a policy and a tiered statewide contract special provision for ITS and in the tiers we are envisioning having three different special provisions one which would contain contract information to basically just alert traffic to queues and interstate closures and we would anticipate that this would be utilized on most interstate projects with lane closures. The second tier would be to be used to alert traffic to queues and include some degree of real-time delays and we anticipate to use this on rural interstate projects with lane closures causing moderate delays. Then we have a third tier which would encompass all aspects of Smart work zone technology including Bluetooth technology, cameras etc. We'd anticipate using that on urban interstate projects with lane closures that cause significant delays and detours.
Where is IDOT using smart work zones? We have a project, an $87.3 million new construction project, of I-57 through Effingham. In past years we've used it on a $30.6 million reconstruction project at the I-57/64 interchange near Mount Vernon. We used on it on a $40.4 reconstruction project of I-57 near Marion. And lastly an $18.4 million pavement replacement project near Edwardsville.
This is a summary of them and you can see these are the four jobs I just showed you on the drawing. You can see three companies are represented by this. They did the bidding. And these are the ITS costs associated with those projects. You will see some are higher than others, some of these projects were multiyear projects and so it is no indication of which one is more expensive.
What drove us to using ITS at this point? 2006 was our first attempt at utilizing Smart work zone systems to relay delay times. We were adding a lane to a busy interstate near St. Louis and we expected significant delay times that would be in the one to two range during peak hours. It was pretty much a failure, a disaster. The cell technology of that time couldn't keep up with keeping the boards updated and we ended up pulling the plug on this one and at that time we vowed not to use it again. But as usual, things change and we made the paper. And not in a good way. This isn't a great headline if you're a DOT, carnage on I-57. It was a seven vehicle multi fatality acts including four semi-tractor trailers with two of the trucks carrying asphalt to the project that was causing the queues. This was a section of rural interstate with numerous flags and traffic curves.
Our immediate response was it was a good response but it was just temporary. We basically put message boards on the truck and navigated the median backwards to alert people to the stopped conditions ahead. There are problems with that try to navigate the median and then try to stay ahead of the queue.
The next response we had was our Carbondale district, which is the district where this occurred, they took action to research and get a system in place and added to the contract to alert motorist to stopped conditions and they came up and use the iCONE system. It was a speed sensor that triggered a message board and alerted traffic to the stop queues.
Right during that time we had a couple big projects going out in the next letting and we were given directives. Two of the directives given was do something to reduce the likelihood of an accident like that which we had on I-57 and do something to better inform the traveling public about delays and help them with options to minimize delays.
We went through and researched and interviewed three ITS work zone companies. We developed a two-page contract special provision and plan sheet addendum that met our state procurement laws to meet the specification and we included by addendum in our contract plans for those jobs. The special provision was more of a performance-based spec and included requirements to basically collect real-time vehicle data and analyze the data by control software and alert drivers of delay time and stopped traffic conditions and alternate stop options. It included a penalty of $2000 per hour after four hours that it wouldn't be working.
These are the project facts, it was a $42 million job, rubblizing and resurfacing and we got started on it in December of 2010. At the time we had two other projects going on simultaneously along the same route adjacent to this project. This project was in this area and we had one to the north and another project to the south that all had lane closures.
We instituted when we implemented the Smart work zone we included the limits of those two adjacent projects with our ITS system to cover about 30 miles of construction with a 6-mile lead in each way. That included a board and a center at about every mile each direction give or take. And utilized some boards up across the crossroads to give some delay times for people who were getting on at different interchanges.
Before that we did win two awards. We've got the contractor of the year award for work zone traffic control and that was IDOT's award and we did get American transportation awards, best use of innovation for a medium project. We did get a lot of positive feedback from the traveling public and we did for as many backups we had and delays we really were amazed at the lack of upset callers that we got or lack of calls we got in general that were negative. And we did receive calls for a few times it wasn't working or we had a problem with it, we did receive calls and really that helped us to figure that it was working because the people who would call in with say the delay time was wrong and usually it is right, what was going on. That just told us they were relying on the information.
Are smart work zones worth the cost? Here are the costs associated with the SWZ's for each of the 4 projects we had going the past couple of years. It varies from 1.4% to 3.6% but average around 2.6% of total contract costs for the four projects we had they had ITS around southern, Illinois.
This is a quote I like to remember whenever I'm looking and analyzing statistics because I think it serves to try to keep me objective when I'm doing this. And I'm realizing too as Mark Twain did that this is human nature to try to prove your point with statistics. This is one of my favorite quotes when looking at stats. And that's where we are headed.
During the 2000-2011 construction seasons we had five projects totaling over $100 million worth of work going along I-55 near St. Louis. In the 2010 season four of those projects were ongoing and during 2010 we did not have a Smart work zone in place. In 2011 three of those projects were ongoing and we did have a smart work zone in place, the one identified earlier.
I thought it would be good if we looked at the statistics, the accident statistics because being an engineer I wanted to prove to myself if this is worth it or not. So we went and collected all the accident data for those two years and grouped them by collision type. We basically took it out that the only accidents we could prevent was the system where that we were concentrating on preventing were rear end type accidents, so we pulled all those out.
We totaled the statistics for each year and divided them by type of injury and what the conditions were, what day of the week was, everything, all the data that was collected on it. And this is a summary of those two years, accidents. If you look from 2010-2011 we had 3.6% more miles under construction in 2011 than 2010. Total lane closure days we had 52% more lane closure days in 2011 than 2010 and you look at that and you might say there are more days then there are days in the year but we counted a lane closure day since we have multiple jobs anytime there was a new closure that you would be entering any new to back up, also at different directions of the interstate so if you had a northbound and southbound you would have two for that day. Then going down you look at total vehicle exposure and that's something we were working on to come up with is try to compare apples to apples so we looked at the average daily traffic and looked at it and said take the average daily traffic times the number of lane closure days that would maybe give us a good comparison of how much vehicle exposure you had. And if you look at this in 2011 we had 25.4% more than we had in 2010. And with that going down to look at the property damage accident there were 14.6% fewer accidents in 2011 than 2010 and 11% fewer injury accidents in 2011 than 2010 and unfortunately there was one fatality each year so there was no change there. And under total queuing accidents it was close to 14% fewer than 2011 than 2010. That doesn't make the decision totally clear but it helps to justify the use of smart work zones to some extent, I believe.
With that I can go through what some lessons that we learned. I think one of our key lessons was that we needed to develop a statewide tiered special provision that will allow for competition between all smart work zone systems as I described earlier. Also establish a policy for utilization of those tiered Smart work zone systems so that we would look at it for each level that we had and figure out where do we want to use these as I talked about earlier. Then we need to address our technology versus sole source issues as I'm sure many other states have issues with. As new technology develops it is hard to use it when there's only one company that has that, so trying to keep everything we you can have multiple bidders. Then we need to recognize that no system is perfect at this point as we get calls and look at the systems we had a place we thought they were working pretty well but even I was caught in traffic where you must have just drove by the board and then all of a sudden it puts up a 10 minute delay or something like that so the only way you can get it perfect is to have something in each vehicle that can tell everybody then at a moment's notice what's going on at that otherwise if you just have boards every mile or half-mile even there is that potential you're going to get old information. And then, use feedback from the motorists constructively which the other two speakers have elaborated on.
With that I am prepared to stop. So, if there's any questions or any questions for anybody else.
All right, thank you, Ted we have a few questions for you. How long do you keep the messages displayed on the sign?
Which messages were they referring to? Can they elaborate?
This was early on in your presentation but, Ernie if you want to maybe let us know what sign specifically you are referring to we can go on and come back to that one. What challenges did you face with identifying the delay time trigger? And, by setting it as 1 minute greater than the normal travel time, do you feel you lost some adherence to the warning by a percentage of the drivers?
When we said it we just figured the delay time for driving through the work zone if they've got to the point where it would equal out to what the alternate route would be that people would want to consider using an alternate route. We didn't want to force people on to alternate routes because we thought if we did that then the delay time on the alternate route or the travel time on the alternate route was going to increase significantly so at that point we just arbitrarily chose that and really we didn't have any issues with it. Mostly when we are going to the systems and setting them up once we got it going, if we got calls or noticed something was going wrong we would address it and change something. On those we did not have an issue with that.
Can you explain how you performed the queue analysis?
Our Bureau of Safety has put out I think they had a project to show people how to do and it is a program that they have that enters all the traffic information into it and your lane restrictions and that and it comes up with a number that gives you a delay time for projected backups. If they had wanted more information, it is a pretty involved process and I believe our Bureau of Safety could probably answer that and get them some information on it.
Back to the question about how long you keep the message displayed on the sign that was with regard to alternate route messages, stop traffic ahead, delay minutes.
Usually as I said the priority of order would be if you have stop traffic ahead it would stick on stop terrific and be prepared to stop and flash on those. Normally it would be about a 10 second flash so it would be one message flash for five seconds and then the other message flash for five seconds. But then if that message was not in priority so we didn't have and stop terrific and it was going to delay times it would just stay on the delay times like work zone, 10 minute delay in it would alternate those at 5 second screen flashed.
Regarding the prior question are you still using work zone queue?
I believe so but I would have to defer that to our Bureau of Safety.
We do have on the work zone website on the work zone and traffic analysis page under examples there is a little mention of work zone queue, among some other tools that states are using, so you might want to take a look at that, the person who asked the question on that.
We started with that I guess about three or four years ago and analyzing that as part of our traffic management plan.
Ted, another question for you, were there any communications issues such as cell coverage and how are they overcome?
Fortunately in the area where we had these work zones there weren't issues with the cell coverage and we had several cell towers very close. But I do know that is an issue and the work zone companies that were looking at bidding at that was a big issue for them when we started talking about the penalties for if there was a problem like if a cell tower would be taken out of service like AT&T or whoever they take it out of service they are using the cell tower and we lose our system and that was one of the big questions is to whether they would be hit with that penalty that we had if they took it off. But fortunately for us that never became an issue and there were two cell towers that could operate that whole work zone. The other work zones we do have a few issues, but it is just a matter of finding the right location where you get the cell coverage and putting your signs and sensors.
I should mention I just brought up a slide with some work zone ITS resources as well as another poll question for everybody to respond to if you have used ITS as we continue with the questions. Another question for you Ted, does Illinois include speed reductions in its work zones?
Yes, we do. We actually drop ours down to 45 where the workers are. And through the most of the work zones we are at 55. And that includes where we are at 75 or 65 mph normal speed zones.
Were the smart work zone costs in addition to the traffic management plan costs?
They were additional, that was part of the Smart work zone itself. The cost shown in the table were part of the actual cost of the Smart work zone system. And it was bid as a line item in our plan so that's what the contractors bid.
Okay, thank you. One last question, did Illinois DOT experience any issues with field device vandalism?
On these later jobs, we didn't, on the first ITS job, we did get hit with a zombie one. They put out there "zombies ahead, beware of zombies" on our message boards. But no vandalism on the message boards that we had on these last few years here. We did end up getting hit with a very severe windstorm that took out about 30 plus of the message boards and rolled them across the road and into the access control centers.
All right, thank you. I think we've made it through all the questions and we are about out of time. I think we will go ahead and close out for today. Thank you to all three of our presenters and thank you to everybody in attendance as well. As I mentioned, the presentations, transcript and recording will all be posted to the work zone website in the next few weeks and I will send out an e-mail once they are available. With that, we will close out for the day. Thank you everybody and enjoy the rest of your day.