The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced US$2.57m in grants to expand the use of real-time travel information in 13 highly congested urban areas across 10 states. Averaging US$200,000 per grant, the funding will help the selected cities or regions combine numerous information technologies and real-time travel information from highway, rail, and transit operations by deploying Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) systems. Although many state and local agencies across the USA already offer similar travel information to drivers, the data is usually from a single source. The new effort takes real-time information a step further, by combining updated congestion and incident data from multiple state and local agencies in the vicinity of the congested area.
The ICM technologies rely on many data sources simultaneously, such as live camera feeds, hundreds of traffic speed and volume detectors, pavement sensors and even weather monitors to gather, transmit and analyze information. Travelers can use real-time information to avoid congestion and find alternate routes or transportation systems, such as transit or rail. Shippers can receive information concerning the entire network, not just one route. Combing data from multiple sources allows engineers to make better decisions about congestion management, by recommending where traffic should flow and onto which systems commuters should be shifted, based on up-to-the-second data. Two ICM systems have been piloted by the FHWA, and are currently operational on US 75 in Dallas, Texas, and on I-15 in San Diego, California. The lessons learned on the two trial projects will help to improve the new ICM deployments. San Diego’s I-15 traveler information smartphone application is tied into ICM response plans and provides real-time updated information about traffic incidents and alternative routes to local drivers.
Announcing funding for the new ICM projects, acting Federal Highway Administrator, Gregory Nadeau, said, “This takes real-time travel information to a new level. Innovations like these are 21st-century tools for our 21st-century economy, and will make our nation’s transportation system even more coordinated and effective.” Acting Federal Transit Administrator, Therese McMillan, commented, “New technology has great potential to improve riders’ experience with transit. By expanding the use of real-time information in cities across the USA, from Portland, Oregon, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we can make it easier for people to make informed choices about the best ways to get around; whether it’s by bus, train, bike, or other ways of travel.” Greg Winfree, USDOT’s assistant secretary for research and technology, noted, “I am very proud of our successful pilots in San Diego and Dallas. Integrated corridors provide real benefits for travelers, and we would like to see those benefits spread throughout the USA.”