The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors has announced that the agency is to apply for participation in the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment program, which is being run by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The pilot program aims to test new connected vehicle technologies that would allow cars and trucks to share real-time information about traffic congestion and roadway conditions to help reduce crashes. If awarded, the partnership will allow the federal government contractor, CDM Smith Federal, a subsidiary of the Tollway’s traffic engineering consultants, to test the new technology on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), which is being rebuilt with new, flexible infrastructure to accommodate the latest intelligent transportation systems (ITS) features. The USDOT is in the process of awarding contracts ranging from US$2m to US$20m to partnerships involved in testing the new technology. If the agency’s application is successful, the pilot project is expected to initially test the technology on the Illinois Tollway’s own vehicles, as well as regional transit buses and commercial fleet vehicles that agree to participate.
The Illinois Tollway is committed to investing in advanced technology, including constructing a 16 miles (25.7km) ‘smart corridor’ on I-90 between the Kennedy Expressway and Barrington Road that will use active traffic management (ATM) features to provide real-time information to drivers using a network of cameras, sensors and electronic dynamic message signs (DMS), mounted overhead on gantries. The smart corridor is part of the Tollway’s US$2.5bn Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) Rebuilding and Widening Project, which will deliver a 21st century, state-of-the-art corridor linking Rockford to O’Hare International Airport. The project encompasses 62 miles (100km) and features six reconstructed and expanded lanes from Randall Road to I-39 near Rockford that was completed in 2014, and reconstruction and expansion to eight lanes from the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to Randall Road in Elgin to be completed in 2016. The new I-90 will also feature significant improvements to seven interchanges and a ‘bus-on-shoulder’ service along the eastern segment in partnership with Pace, the Chicago area transit service.
The Tollway and CDM Smith Federal expect to submit their final proposal to the USDOT next month, and if successful, development and testing of connected vehicle technology along I-90 could begin as soon as 2017. “This new technology has the potential to produce tremendous benefits for drivers,” said the Illinois Tollway’s executive director, Kristi Lafleur. “By taking a leading role in testing, we can be among the first transportation agencies in the nation to bring the safety advances that result from this program to our customers.”