Missouri highway warning system wins third award

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A technology team from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has found a way to make important existing tools work even better for customers. Their ingenuity and customer-focused commitment were recognized with a 2016 Governor’s Technology in Government Award for Quality and Productivity.

On any given commute within the Kansas City or St Louis metropolitan areas, motorists will see dynamic message sign (DMS) boards warning of accidents and offering accurate drive time information. The system has become a mainstay for urban drivers as they travel along the roadways every day of the week. For major construction projects, MoDOT has deployed several self-contained smart work zones that include portable variable message signs (VMS) that warn of stopped traffic ahead when congestion builds in front of the work zone. These smart work zone systems have become a major tool that can help reduce accidents in work zone queues.

MoDOT’s new Rural Queue and Delay Warning System builds upon these two proven tools to automatically format rural DMS boards with information that is crucial for motorists. The system uses real-time Here probe segment speeds that are reported every minute of the day across the entire length of I-70 in Missouri. As speed decreases, the system automatically formats and posts a single phase DMS board message on the two boards preceding that incident or work zone. This automated message tells motorists if they should expect slowed or stopped traffic, where they should expect to encounter it, and how long a delay they should expect because of it.

Once the traffic management center (TMC) operator confirms the details of the incident, they can execute the response plan and post the second phase of the message board that provides even more valuable information to the motorist. The alert system, while designed for use by MoDOT staff, has also been shared with contractor personnel working on the agency’s right of way, as well as law enforcement partners. There are currently around 200 users of the system.

The Field Alert Traffic System team has also been chosen to receive the 2016 Francis B Francois Award for Innovation presented by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). MoDOT has also won the ITS America Heartland Region Best of ITS Project of the Year Award 2016 for the Rural Queue and Delay Warning Project.

“The Technology In Government Award is a formal recognition of excellence. It reflects the outstanding achievements of state employees whose work is often times overlooked,” said MoDOT director Patrick McKenna. “MoDOT is guided by a series of tangible results that allow the department to fulfill its mission. Two of these results are to provide outstanding customer service, and to keep customers and ourselves safe. This program is the embodiment of both those results to outstanding degree. Our team, through their ingenuity, embodies MoDOT values and is keeping our customers safe.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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