The WSRTC is a continuation and broadening of the original California Oregon Advanced Transportation System (COATS) project. COATS began in 1998 as collaborative effort among the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Montana State University, Bozeman’s Western Transportation Institute (WTI) to investigate the use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in rural areas. The intent of the COATS project was to facilitate the use of ITS to enhance safety, improve the movement of people, goods and services, and subsequently promote the economic development of the bi-state region and to begin deployment of those solutions.

During the third phase of the COATS project, the Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum (WSF) was initiated. The Forum provided a venue for presentations and frank discussions on how technology projects were implemented in the field. It also provided insight not only for the need of collaboration on rural ITS technology transfer, but also operations and safety research. Through attendance of the Forum, representatives from the Washington and Nevada Departments of Transportation expressed interest in becoming affiliated with the COATS partnership in order to foster greater research and technology transfer and collaboration. The following is a synopsis of the evolution of the Consortium since inception:

June 2009 - Informal discussions occur during the Western States Forum regarding Consortium establishment/expansion of the COATS project/region
August 2009 - Formal discussions between COATS members of expansion/consortium development result in agreement to pursue development of the WSRTC.
August 2009
– October 2009
- Development of a Consortium charter and mission/vision/goals documents is undertaken.
November 2009 - Formal discussion between all potential consortium members regarding the charter and mission/vision/goals documents, intended roles and responsibilities, etc. occurs. Based on these discussions, all parties agree to move forward in formalizing the Consortium.
February 2010 - Follow-up discussions on changes to Consortium charter and mission/vision/goals documents occur. Additionally, Year 1 incubator projects are discussed, with selections made of technology, operations and safety projects for which initial Scopes of Work will be developed.
April, 2010 - Scopes of Work completed for incubator projects.