California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS)

For over 20 years, the California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) program has shown that a bi-state partnership to address rural ITS concerns is both feasible and advantageous. It allows for maximization of resources and provides a source for fresh ideas and perspectives. It provides a platform to address the issues and concerns of rural areas that might otherwise remain ignored. Numerous systems and approaches have been developed and evaluated over the years, providing useful information on which to base future deployment decisions. Several of these initial systems are still in place, addressing the concerns they were designed to. Finally, COATS has provided a platform on which to conduct expanding efforts geared toward outreach and tech transfer.

The roots of the COATS program stretch back to 1991. Caltrans recognized that there were rural concerns in dealing with advanced technologies that would evolve into Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). In 1995, efforts were begun to specifically examine ITS technologies in a rural context through a scoping study. This scoping study, the Program for Advancing Rural Transportation Technologies (PARTT), reviewed advanced transportation technologies, identified key issues concerning them, and developed conceptual ideas for future activities. As part of this work, a geographic area in Northern California designated a study area to refine the need and application of ITS in a rural environment. Caltrans and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) expanded the Northern California study area into Southern Oregon to maximize resources, foster cooperation, and investigate feasibility of ITS in a bi-state study area. All of these activities laid the foundation for what COATS would become.

In 1998, the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University, Bozeman, was selected to carry out further studies. Led by Chris Strong and Steve Albert, this effort, subsequently titled COATS, focused on ITS planning and architecture in the previously identified study area. Notably, the COATS project resulted in the development of the first two Rural Transportation Management Centers in California, one in Redding and one in Eureka. Additionally, the work resulted in deployment of an early-winner project. The specific activities of this phase of COATS, as well as subsequent phases, are outlined in the COATS project History.

COATS Project Area

Recent Updates:

WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner, thumbnail 2021 Western States Forum Save the Date postcard front, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner, thumbnail The COATS Project - 1998 to Present, COATS fact sheet banner 2020 Western States Forum Save the Date postcard front, thumbnail
January – March 2021 Quarterly Update
April 30th, 2021
October – December 2020 Quarterly Update
January 29th, 2021
July – September 2020 Quarterly Update
October 26th, 2020
New Project Phase – COATS VIII
May 6th, 2020
COATS Phase VII Completed
April 27th, 2020
October – December 2019 Quarterly Update
January 24th, 2020

Check back soon for more California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) updates.

UPDATE: Friday, April 30th, 2021

Top banner of COATS fact sheet

COATS Phase 8 is building on the success of earlier COATS phases with a focus on technology transfer. Tasks to be completed include two Western States Forums, Project Technical Advisory Panel (PTAP) meetings, website development and maintenance, and the Forum Handbook. Here is a short summary of work completed during the January through March 2021 quarter.

Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum

Front of Save the New Date postcard for the Western States Forum with the new dates of October 5-7, 2021.

Note the new dates for the 2021 Western States Forum! The Forum Steering Committee evaluated current conditions and made the decision to postpone the Forum to October 5 – 7, 2021. You can review the planned technical agenda in the Forum project update from April 22nd, 2021. Registration information and event details will be posted on the Forum website around June 1st. Check back soon and watch your mailbox and inbox!


A Western States Rural Transportation Consortium meeting was held online, March 9, 2021. The group discussed the status of the WSRTC Pooled Fund and its task orders. WSRTC Phase II (TPF-5(241)) was granted a time extension with a new end date of March 31, 2023. The group will begin work on Phase III of the Consortium. Changes to the WSRTC Charter were also discussed briefly. (Current Consortium Documents are on the Documents page.) A meeting report is coming soon!

The project team continued to monitor the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic, and its impacts on travel and group gatherings, scheduled meetings, etc. The WSRTC Annual Meeting will still be held in conjunction with the Western States Forum in October of 2021. The ITE Annual Meeting and NRITS Conference are now scheduled to be held virtually at the end of July.

Check back next quarter for an update on the progress of the COATS tasks.

Project Contacts:

  • Caltrans Project Champion:
  • Jeremiah Pearce, P.E.
  • Chief
  • Office of ITS Engineering and Support
  • Caltrans District 2
  • 1657 Riverside Drive
  • Redding, CA 96001
  • (530) 225-3320
  • (530) 225-3255 (fax)
  • jeremiah.pearce "at"
  • Oregon DOT Lead:
  • Doug Spencer, P.E.
  • Standards Engineer
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • 2080 Laura Street
  • Springfield, OR 97477
  • (541) 747-1276
  • Doug.L.SPENCER "at"
  • WTI Contact:
  • Leann Koon
  • Research Associate
  • Systems Engineering, Development & Integration
  • Western Transportation Institute (WTI)
  • Montana State University - Bozeman
  • PO Box 174250
  • Bozeman, MT 59717-4250
  • (406) 994-7643
  • (406) 994-1697 (fax)
  • leann.koon "at"
  • Past WTI Contact:
  • Douglas Galarus
  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Montana Tech
  • Museum 202
  • 1300 West Park Street
  • Butte, MT 59701
  • (406) 496-4858
  • dgalarus "at"
  • Past WTI Contact:
  • David Veneziano
  • Program Manager I
  • Institute for Transportation
  • Iowa State University
  • Suite 4700
  • 2711 S Loop Dr
  • Ames, IA 50010-8664
  • (515) 294-5480
  • dvenez "at"