On September 2, 2004, FDOT’s District 7 launched the Tampa Bay 511 Traveler Information Service. This service, available to motorists in seven counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, and Hernando), provides detailed up-to-the-minute information on traffic conditions on the interstate and major roads throughout the Tampa Bay area.
With this launch, Tampa Bay joins 21 other cities and metropolitan areas nationwide using 511 services. The Tampa Bay 511 Traveler Information Service is the third 511 service offered in Florida. The first Florida service was the Central Florida Traveler Information 511 Service (launched June 24, 2002), which currently focuses on delivering traveler information for I-4 between Daytona (Volusia County) and the Central Florida tourist attractions. This was followed by the Southeast Florida SunGuideSM 511 Service (launched July 16, 2002), which currently provides traveler information for Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties as well as the Florida Keys portion of Monroe County.
The Tampa Bay 511 Traveler Information Service is a 24-hours a day, 7-days a week service, available through cellular and land-line phones at no cost to land-line users. Cellular phone users must pay their regular airtime and/or roaming charges dependent upon their service contracts. Until AT&T Wireless offers the 3-digit 511 dialing, its customers will have to dial 1-800-576-3886 to get traffic information.
Motorists can obtain information by dialing 511 and following voice-activated prompts. The system responds to voice commands providing information on congestion, blocked lanes, or crashes on specified routes. Callers are encouraged to seek information before they are on the road. They also have the option of logging on to the service's Web site at www.511tampabay.com. This Web site provides an interactive map of the Tampa Bay area with red and white triangles highlighting traffic problems. Clicking on the triangles provides details of these traffic problems. Drivers can even arrange to get email updates for roads they frequently travel.
The Tampa Bay 511 Traveler Information Service is operated by Traffic Pulse, a division of Mobility Technologies. Traffic Pulse gathers traffic and road information from road sensors, cameras, FDOT Road Rangers, the Florida Highway Patrol, and police scanners.
The FDOT and the Federal Highway Administration plan to invest more than $5 million to operate and maintain the service over the next 5 years.
This article was provided by Bill Wilshire, FDOT District 7. For more information, please contact Mr. Wilshire at (813) 975-6612 or email Bill.Wilshire@dot.state.fl.us.
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To date, the Florida Keys have been threatened by three major hurricanes (and counting) during the summer of 2004. Emergency evacuations are being managed based on available information which is shared among the relevant agencies. Meanwhile, FDOT District 6 is deploying ITS along the 130 mile stretch of US 1, from Key West to Key Largo and up to Florida City in southern Miami-Dade County, to facilitate hurricane evacuation, incident response, and maintenance of traffic as well as traffic management during peak holidays and special events. ITS can help address these issues in several ways:
The Florida Keys ITS Program was implemented using design/build deployment. The deployment was divided into two projects: the Lower Keys (Key West - Mile Marker [MM] 5 to Key Largo - MM 106) and Upper Keys (Key Largo -MM 106 to Florida City - MM 127). The Lower Keys project was combined with ITS deployment along I-75 and I-195 within Miami-Dade County, while the Upper Keys project was combined with ITS deployment along SR 826 within Miami-Dade County. The Florida Keys ITS projects include the following components:
A summary of the Florida Keys ITS Program, indicating the number of devices by project; the start and completion dates; and costs, is presented in the following table:
Florida Keys ITS Program
The Upper Keys project has provided several lessons learned in working within this unique, environmentally sensitive area:
The FDOT District 6 Maintenance Emergency Operations Center welcomes the Florida Keys ITS Program to facilitate their role in communicating with motorists, emergency services, and local agencies. They will use the CCTV cameras to monitor traffic queues; to determine where Road Rangers should be roving; and to determine timeframes experiencing heavy delays. They will use the DMSs to advise motorists of traffic conditions; to notify them of suspension of tolls along Florida’s Turnpike; to provide advisories of evacuation (including shelter information); and to provide the status of bridge “lockdowns.”
In summary, the Florida Keys ITS Program provides a unique complement to the “urban”ITS within Miami-Dade County. As all ITS field devices for both counties will be monitored and controlled at the FDOT District 6 TMC, the region will be better prepared for future hurricanes in saving lives, time, and money.
This article was provided by Omar Meitin, FDOT District 6. For more information, please contact Mr. Meitin at (305) 499-2493 or email Omar.Meitin@dot.state.fl.us.
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Recently there have been questions from the FDOT District Offices regarding the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Florida Division oversight of ITS projects. The main question concerns the type of ITS projects that are considered to have FHWA Project Level Oversight (non-exempt) or FHWA Program Level Oversight (exempt), and what this means. I am taking this opportunity to clarify the Federal-aid oversight process. The difference between the Project Level Oversight and the Program Level Oversight is that the Project Level Oversight is managed by the FHWA Florida Division’s Transportation Engineers, while the Program Level Oversight is managed by FDOT and FHWA through a previously agreed to process. This article concentrates on the Project Level Oversight.
Based on the current Exemption Agreement and 23 USC 106 Exception Process, Topic No. 625-010-000-f, the following oversight process has been established.
Project Level Oversight
The following table illustrates the Federal-aid oversight process:
Discussed above are the FHWA submittal requirements for Federal-aid and design/build contracts for Project Level Oversight projects. Remember that Program Level Oversight and Local Agency Program projects still follow the same regulations and the FDOT certifies to the FHWA that all projects were carried out in accordance with the same laws and regulations. Any deviation could jeopardize Federal-aid participation.
This article was provided by Chung Tran, FHWA. For information, please contact Mr. Tran at (850) 942-9650 ext. 3041 or email to Chung.Tran@fhwa.dot.gov.
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The I-95 Corridor Coalition (Coalition) held a Leadership Workshop on September 9-10 in Alexandria, Virginia, at the Old Town Holiday Inn in the Historic District. Within a few blocks of the hotel, one could see the church where George Washington’s funeral services were held, and eat in restaurants and drink in taverns that served the public at the time this country was being formed. The fact that the men and women who lived and worked in Alexandria were instrumental in helping to chart this country’s future course made Alexandria an appropriate setting for this Leadership Workshop. The discussions emanating from this workshop will help set the future course of the Coalition.
The workshop kicked off with the Executive Board Chair, Neil Pedersen, welcoming everyone to the Leadership Workshop and to Virginia. The goal of the workshop was to review Member Services and Outreach, and to discuss multi-state issues to assist in the formulation of the Coalition’s future course.
One of the more important functions of the Coalition is Member Services and Outreach. The goal of the Member Services and Outreach Program is to bring people to the Coalition table, keep them there, and make the experience worthwhile for them as well as for the Coalition. The Member Services and Outreach Program is key to the success of the Coalition and can be considered as the engine that provides the power to the Coalition.
Mark Norman, Transportation Research Board (TRB), set the tone in the morning by speaking about the importance of volunteers to organizations such as the Coalition. People have less time than ever before to donate to volunteer activities, and barriers to participation must be identified and removed to encourage people to volunteer. Potentially, one of the biggest reasons volunteers don’t get involved is that no one bothered to ask them. Additionally, it is important to maximize the volunteer’s time by reducing the amount of “administrivia” that volunteers have to cope with. Having strong effective committee chairs, and involving everyone in identifying issues and setting priorities, is essential to a successful project. Always give credit and not blame. As Mark Norman stressed –Communicate, Communicate, COMMUNICATE.
The afternoon was devoted to strategic planning issues. Prior to the workshop, a survey was taken among the Executive Board members. The survey provided feedback on the multi-state issues that the member agencies felt were important as well as what issues should be addressed by the Coalition.
As a result of the survey, the Executive Board members provided a list of multi-state issues that can be boiled down to the following general issues:
The Executive Board also felt that incident response and information sharing was important to address on a regional basis, as well as the provision of traveler information/511 and evacuation planning. The Executive Board also pointed out that move-it laws, sign messages, and electronic payment systems should be consistent from state to state along the I-95 corridor.
When asked what the Coalition should be doing to address multi-state issues, the Executive Board responded with of the following suggestions:
Discussions regarding strategic planning were initiated by a panel representing Coalition partners. The panel, consisting of Tony Kane from AASHTO, Steve Kuciemba with ITS America, Mark Norman from TRB, Jeff Paniati from FHWA, and Jeff Squires with the Senate Environmental Protection Administration, discussed the answers to three questions that were provided in advance. The following three questions were posed by the Coalition:
The panelists were united in their reaction to identifying the key multi-state issues. Based on what the panelists got from the Coalition members’ survey, and from what they heard from their members, the major issues deal with freight movement, incident management, traveler information, safety, security, standards, toll collection, roadway weather systems, and funding. The panel also pointed out that institutional constraints tend to make it more difficult to address the multi-state issues. The panel suggested that all transportation agencies need to have a stronger management and operations mindset; core staff competencies need to be improved; and agency Chief Executive Officers need to be more aware of problems along the I-95 corridor and what the Coalition can do to support their agency’s goals.
The panel felt that the best way to leverage the efforts of the Coalition members was to promote pooled-fund initiatives; conduct peer-to-peer and domestic scans; develop common performance measures; conduct Web casts; and promote information sharing through training, conferences, and workshops, and through contact and interaction with private sector partners.
To complement the panel’s discussion, Emil Frankel, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, discussed transportation activities on the horizon and how the Coalition could best advance the USDOT’s multi-state issues. Mr. Frankel noted that the current transportation bill expires at the end of September, and there is no information on the length and contents of a possible extension. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives both have proposed bills, but they are worlds apart. The USDOT prefers the U.S. Senate bill as it affords more flexibility.
In discussing how the Coalition can best advance the USDOT’s key multi-state issues, Mr. Frankel suggested that the Coalition and its members provide the U.S. Congress with information on transportation policy and what the federal government’s role should be. The Coalition should place an emphasis on systems operations, passenger rail, congestion mitigation, and freight and goods movement.
Facilitated discussions followed presentations regarding Member Services and Outreach and Multi-State Issues. A general theme coming from the facilitated discussion regarding Member Services and Outreach was that in order for the Coalition to be effective, members must have a sense of value and a feeling of how the Coalition benefits them. Creativity of members must be promoted, basic services of the Program tracks must be consistent, and Program tracks must communicate and coordinate among themselves.
The Multi-State Issues facilitated discussion participants brought up the following:
The participants also felt that a complete bottleneck analysis would be beneficial and institutional issues surrounding electronic payment services should be addressed. Additionally, the Coalition should continue to partner with other organizations and bringing the private sector to the table will be challenging in that the private sector must benefit directly from participation.
The second day of the workshop was devoted to reviewing the prior day’s discussions and going over the agenda for the 1st Annual I-95 Corridor Coalition Meeting. In the wrap-up, it was suggested that the Coalition needs to emphasize addressing regional and policy issues as well as conducting information exchange forums. A list of potential projects, initiatives, and information exchange forum topics were developed during the wrap-up.
The list of suggested regional issues included:
On the policy side, the suggested issues included:
A number of information exchange forums were proposed to address performance measures, evacuation and emergency planning, 511, cargo tracking, wireless communications, security, work zone safety, and roadway weather information systems.
The last effort of the workshop was a discussion of the 1st Annual I-95 Corridor Coalition Meeting to be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 13-14. North Carolina will be discussing their transportation initiatives and Lyndo Tippett, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, will provide the welcome at the Kickoff Luncheon. This annual meeting will feature concurrent information forums that will cover a range of topics, including evacuation/emergency preparedness, safety, and security.
This article was provided by Gene Glotzbach, FDOT Traffic Engineering and Operations Office, ITS Section. For more information, please contact Mr. Glotzbach at (850) 410-5616 or email Gene.Glotzbach@dot.state.fl.us.
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Miss This Free Opportunity
to Learn and Network!
Sponsored by the ITS America Special Interest Group on International Research and Learning (SIGIRL), this EPS event is designed to provide an insight into practical lessons and experiences gained by EPS practitioners throughout the world. The session starts with a concise overview of the world of EPS and features presentations by prominent practitioners from around the world. Focusing on lessons learned and practical experiences, the presenters will provide their perspectives on various elements of EPS as well as any unresolved issues. The subject will be further illuminated by a specially arranged technical tour of Multipurpose Dedicated Short Range Communications Experimental Sites in Nagoya on Thursday, October 21.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and network at this must-attend event in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004!
Note: This is a special event which is coordinated with the 11th World Congress on ITS; however, it does not require conference registration to attend and is free.
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Florida’s transportation system is the backbone of our state’s economy and is essential to our safety, quality of life, and economic vitality. The Florida Chamber Foundation, in its “Transportation Cornerstone” and “New Cornerstone” reports, has consistently stated that good transportation is the key to Florida’s economic future.
Transportation spending has been a legitimate function of our government since the days when President Thomas Jefferson commissioned a team to select the route of the first National Highway. Clearly, TRANSPORTATION – not General Electric – “brings good things to life.” Everything we eat, drink, wear, drive, or buy was somehow provided through transportation. But if we expect these benefits to continue, we’ve got to increase transportation funding at the local, state, and federal levels of government.
In a state like Florida, where 18 percent of our population is over the age of 65, increasing safety for older drivers, younger drivers –and for every driver –must be a top priority.
A February 2003 study by the FDOT, Macroeconomic Impacts of the Florida Department of Transportation Work Program, stated that:
“If we’re trying to create jobs, let’s create jobs. Our roads, highways, and bridges are in sore need of repair. Investing in our infrastructure would definitely create jobs and would immediately stimulate the economy, and the investment would be lasting.”
In many ways, the history of America is the story of transportation developments. From sailing ships along the Eastern seaboard to barges on the Erie Canal, from the Pony Express to paddlewheelers on the Mississippi River and the “Iron Horse” crossing the Great Plains, transportation has always symbolized progress and prosperity for America. In modern times, the development of the automobile, the Interstate Highway System, and air travel have revolutionized America over the span of just one lifetime. The freedom, affluence, and mobility afforded by our modern transportation system are truly symbolic of the “American way of life.”But nothing in life is free and so we must resolve to find the transportation means to maintain our amazing quality of life. And that will require additional resources for transportation, and a smarter approach to dealing with transportation.
A new transportation “recipe”for meeting the needs of the 21st Century is needed. This new comprehensive transportation approach should involve at least the following:
Below are specific recommendations for increased transportation funding at both the state and federal levels.
This article was provided by Douglas J. Callaway, Floridians for Better Transportation. For more information, please contact Mr. Callaway at (850) 521-1256 or email DCallaway@bettertransportation.org.
If you wish to contribute an article to the SunGuide Disseminator on behalf of ITS Florida, please contact Erika Ridlehoover at (813) 376-0036, or email Erika.Ridlehoover@transcore.com.
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Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors stream into Florida for all sorts of reasons –business, pleasure, or to become another permanent resident. The last thing on their minds is the traffic they might encounter after leaving the airport or driving from a rural highway to an urban center. But that seemingly easy drive can take a dramatic turn for the worse when visitors encounter a major traffic jam with no idea of where to turn for information.
Meanwhile, a traffic management center (TMC) has received information on the incident causing this major traffic jam, verified the details, and posted the current conditions on electronic message signs. An advanced traveler information service was notified immediately by the TMC, and a real-time Web site and telephone message system were updated with the incident data. A broadcast traffic service will be reporting the same information in upcoming “live”on-air reports to area radio and television stations.
So where is the disconnect between the visitors and ITS?
Is it any wonder that visitors – and many local drivers –get stuck in traffic jams?
Old habits have made advances in ITS difficult. Getting commuters to check on travel conditions ahead of time is twice as hard when those same travelers head for vacation. When those travelers do hear a report, it is often via the attributed source for the majority of traveler information received – commercial broadcast radio. As more and more reliable data is generated, the “old habits” of the broadcast traffic reports work against the traveler. The legacy of headline reports often emphasizes the number of vehicles and injuries (the “news”) instead of vital traveler information –lane closures, length of delays, opposite direction affect, and alternate route conditions.
Visitors Are Locals Too
Promoting the 3-digit 511 traveler information telephone number can be done at the first point of contact –car rental counters, welcome centers, motor clubs, and travel agents. Company representatives at these locations can have an arsenal of Web addresses and phone numbers to check for their clients. For example, if the rental car company accessed traveler information just prior to the visitor leaving the airport, the driver could take an alternate route to avoid an incident. This type of customer service can have a lasting effect for businesses, along with state tourism in general.
The 511 signs should be thought of as just a reminder to let motorists know that traveler information is available. A marketing approach to reach out to all commuters would help reinforce just what 511 is and what it can do for visitors and commuters alike. With a nationwide approach, 511 promotion around the country would help define 3-digit dialing services for visitors.
The ITS community should assume most visitors are still getting their first traffic backup information the same way they have been for years – they’re stuck in it. Until the level of ITS promotion and marketing improves, a limited number of users will continue to learn about the many ways they can benefit from the hard work of departments of transportation and ITS professionals. Traffic reporting “lingo” and locally known landmarks might have a familiar ring to regular radio listeners, but it has little benefit to a driver unfamiliar with the area who is looking to avoid their next “trafficulty.”
Let’s give every visitor and driver a break –assume nothing about what we think they know. Provide timely, accurate, and user-friendly traveler information to give everyone a fighting chance to make their trip down the highway a lot more stress-free.
This editorial was provided by Bob Murphy, PB Farradyne. For more information, please contact Mr. Murphy at (954) 714-2377 or email at MurphyB@pbworld.com.
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The FDOT Traffic Engineering and Operations Office, through the Traffic Engineering Research Laboratory (TERL), is responsible for approving all traffic control signal devices. Approved devices are kept on the FDOT Approved Products List (APL), a listing of devices that may be relied upon as meeting FDOT specifications, standards, or other criteria.
The APL is a means for the FDOT to meet Florida Statute 316.0745, Uniform Signals and Devices, which states, “All official traffic control signals or official traffic control devices purchased and installed in this state by any public body or official shall conform with the manual and specifications published by the Department of Transportation pursuant to subsection (2).”
More information on the FDOT APL may be viewed at www.dot.state.fl.us.TrafficOperations/ TERL/APL.htm. Specific approved products in the FDOT APL may be searched at rite.eng.fsu.edu/iapl/page1.php.
Due to Florida's very active hurricane season, this information is not available this month. Please check back in November.
For more information, please contact Carl Morse, FDOT Traffic Engineering and Operations Office, at (850) 414-4863 or email Carl. Morse@dot.state.fl.us.
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2004 — Border Wars: Overcoming Transportation Barriers
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National Transportation Multimodal Safety and Security Systems Conference
Presentations from national, state, and industry subject-matter experts will focus on applied training, enforcement/legislative issues, and technology. Keynote and panel speakers will be from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Association of American Railroads, the Florida Ports Council, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Exhibitors will be from education, government, and industry committed to improving transportation safety and security systems.
For further information, including the agenda and registration, please visit the conference Web site at http://catss.ucf.edu/securityconference/.
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Ms. McCrary will assist Mike Akridge with the Incident Management Program which includes the state's service patrols and Road Rangers Program, and with the commercial vehicle operations programs.
Ms. McCrary has nine years experience with FDOT, the last four of which have been in the ITS Program. She has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Management from Florida State University and is sure to be a great asset in the Incident Management Section.
Please join us in welcoming Ms. McCrary to the FDOT Traffic Engineering and Operations Office!
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Good Luck Anne!
Please join the FDOT ITS Section in congratulating Ms. Brewer on her new position and wishing her good luck!
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Good Luck Diane!
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SunGuide Disseminator October 2004