Multidisciplinary consultancy WSP USA (formerly WSP – Parsons Brinkerhoff) has revealed how it is leading a pilot program to design Minnesota’s first smart road using connected vehicle technology along a stretch of highway near Minneapolis, Minnesota.
WSP was selected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to transform a major state highway west of Minneapolis into a road capable of testing and deploying numerous applications for safety and mobility.
As prime consultant, the company is responsible for providing planning, systems engineering, and technical support to MnDOT, and will develop a concept of operations for the project, prepare system requirements, and support the procurement of system design and deployment in subsequent phases.
MnDOT has selected the nine-mile (14.5km) Trunk Highway 55 (TH-55) corridor between downtown Minneapolis and Interstate 494 as the initial location to deploy this technology. In addition, portions of Interstate 394, which runs parallel to the south of TH-55, may be outfitted with connected vehicle infrastructure to allow for additional applications. Planning will continue through the summer, and deployment of the connected corridor program is expected to start later this year.
The backbone of the Minnesota project will be the broadcast of signal, phase and timing (SPaT) information to vehicles directly from traffic signal controllers along the corridor. MnDOT will be developing the communications infrastructure and data management systems to support a range of existing and future technologies. Once the connected corridor is ready for activation, WSP and MnDOT will lead outreach efforts and demonstrations to illustrate the benefits of the Minnesota connected corridor to the public.
One key application will be the first implementation of the technology to provide traffic signal priority to snow plows in order to improve efficiency of clearance operations. The connected corridor will also include a mobile work zone warning system that improves traveler information to all motorists using dynamic message signs (DMS), mobile applications and direct radio messages. An intersection conflict warning system will provide bus drivers with an alert when a pedestrian is in an approaching crosswalk.
“Connected vehicle technology will have a huge impact on people’s lives,” said Scott Shogan (top), connected and automated vehicle market leader at WSP. “This project is focused on developing a connected corridor using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology, but also looking for other ways to distribute data, such as traffic signal timings, through existing means such as cellular communications. SPaT data can enable high-value applications that have been identified as initial use cases for a national connected vehicle deployment.”