In Florida, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployment Program is reaching its first major milestone and entering a new phase of development, bringing the city of Tampa a step closer to the future of transportation.
This week, THEA’s project management team heads to Washington DC to meet with US Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials for the official kickoff of Phase Two, which will include the design and deployment of CV technology in downtown Tampa. Funded by a contract with USDOT, the CV pilot is expected to reduce the risk of crashes, enhance traffic flow and even shrink the city’s carbon footprint. THEA completed the concept development and planning phase, or Phase 1, in August, and USDOT finalized a cooperative agreement initiating the new phase in early September. Tampa was one of three sites in the USA to be selected for the pilot program, which seeks to spur innovation among early adopters of connected vehicle applications. The other two sites are New York City and the I-80 corridor in Wyoming.
Connected vehicle technology achieves safety, mobility and environmental benefits by enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and with elements of the infrastructure. In Tampa, THEA and its partners will install 40 wireless communication devices (roadside units or RSUs) on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway Reversible Express Lanes (REL), Meridian Avenue, Channelside Drive and other downtown roadways. Other devices (onboard units or OBUs), will be installed in 10 HART buses, 10 TECO Line Streetcar System trolley cars, and 1,500 privately owned vehicles. THEA and its partners will also develop mobile apps to enhance pedestrian safety.
As part of the new phase, THEA and its partners aim to address numerous safety and mobility issues, such as:
Rush hour safety and congestion relief – CV technology will help prevent crashes on the REL during peak travel times by alerting drivers of hazards on the road ahead;
Wrong-way drivers – OBUs will alert drivers who are attempting to enter the REL in the wrong direction, and will warn other drivers when a wrong-way driver is detected;
Pedestrian safety – Many crosswalks will be equipped with RSUs to warn oncoming drivers when a pedestrian is present, and participating pedestrians will also receive warnings on their smartphones;
Improved safety and on-time performance for public transit – Connected buses will communicate with traffic signals to receive priority, in order to arrive on time, and streetcar operators will receive warnings when a driver or pedestrian is attempting to cross the track;
Traffic monitoring – Downtown Tampa’s transportation management center will use CV data to improve traffic flow in real-time.
As part of Phase 2, THEA plans to recruit volunteer drivers beginning in the fall of 2017 to participate in the pilot. After approximately 20 months, the project will enter a third, 18-month operational phase to be concluded in late 2019.
The Tampa, Florida, test site is one of three locations in the USDOT’s Connected Vehicle Pilot Program. The other two being New York City and Wyoming. We will be reporting on all three in an ongoing series that will feature in the new Comtrans section of Traffic Technology International magazine. The Connected Vehicle Pilot Program reports will start in our October/November edition (out at the start of October) with New York.