Tampa’s Connected Vehicle Pilot Project provides benefits to two Florida agencies

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Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District 7 is to provide video detection devices to enable improved traffic signals’ operation as part of Tampa’s Connected Vehicle Pilot project.

The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is currently in the design stage of a groundbreaking project to implement multiple connected vehicle (CV) applications in the city’s Commercial Business District (CBD), to improve safety, mobility, and the environmental impact of vehicle traffic. Co-funded by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and THEA, the project involves installing radios and computers in over 1,600 vehicles, including buses, streetcars and private cars, and at over 40 fixed locations at downtown intersections, to enable ultra-fast vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. The project will also equip over 500 area residents with cell-phone applications to alert equipped nearby vehicles when pedestrians are crossing a street.

One of the advantages of V2I communication is that it can enable more efficient operation of traffic lights, with the signal controller able to change the red and green phases in real time to best serve CVs at or approaching the intersection. THEA plans to implement this system along several streets in the CBD to reduce travel times and make traffic flow smoother and safer. As THEA moved into the design phase, project engineers examined signal optimization with the designers of the control process at the University of Arizona. They learned that signal control optimization can only reach its full potential when over 90% of the vehicles approaching the intersection have known location and speeds. The number of vehicles instrumented for V2I communication as part of the pilot would provide a far smaller percentage of coverage, so a method of obtaining information on all vehicles approaching the instrumented intersections was needed.

After considering several technologies, including loop and microwave detectors, FDOT District 7 agreed to pay for the procurement and installation of over 40 video traffic detectors at 12 intersections along Florida Avenue and Nebraska Avenue as part of a joint partnering agreement with THEA. General engineering consultant HNTB will provide the design to integrate the detectors with the rest of the CV pilot operation, at no cost to the Tampa project. THEA will also provide 10 Bluetooth detectors to determine travel time between points on these streets and along Meridian Avenue.

The decision to install video detection along the corridor was a win-win scenario for both agencies, since it will benefit the signal optimization goals not only for the Tampa pilot but for those state roads that are part of the upcoming Managed Lanes Tampa Bay Express project.

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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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