California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS):
Predecessor to the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium (WSRTC), the California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) established bi-state cooperation to investigate and address rural concerns with advanced transportation technologies. This effort, dating back to 1998, has identified regional challenges, as well as developed and evaluated solutions to these throughout the northern California and southern Oregon region. It has served as the impetus for long-term partnerships, provided a forum for discussion and information dissemination, and provided an incubator for ideas that have evolved into stand-alone projects and products.
After four phases of COATS spanning 12 years, the Steering Committee determined that it was in the best interest of the project to broaden its area of service to the western United States. Through attendance at the Western States 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. With the addition of Washington and Nevada to the California and Oregon (COATS) partnership, the COATS partnership has now evolved into the WSRTC.
The following projects have been developed in conjunction with WSRTC efforts. The projects are in various stages of research and development, and are generally considered mature since they've gone through pilot-testing and evaluation stages.
- Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum
- One Stop Shop (OSS)
- Integration of Aviation AWOS with RWIS
- Automated Safety Warning Controller
- Redding Responder
- Integrated Corridor Management (ICM)
- Professional Capacity Building (PCB) for Communication Systems
One of the Consortium’s primary activities is the pursuit of incubator research projects for three foci: technology, operations and safety. Incubator projects are low-cost research efforts that serve as a “proof of concept”. Based on the results of an incubator project, the decision may be made to pursue development of a larger spin-off project, which requires its own specific funding resources. A list of potential incubator projects can be reviewed here. Consortium members are encouraged to add ideas to this list throughout the year. Ideas may be sent to Doug Galarus for inclusion in the list.
Based on discussions held during the development of the COATS Phase 6 Workplan, a series of incubator projects was proposed. Each of the Consortium’s pillars (technology, operations, and safety) are represented among the incubator projects. The Year 1 incubator projects are Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices (technology) and Evaluation of the Fredonyer Summit Icy Curve Warning System –Before and After Study of Long-Term Effectiveness (safety/operations). Year 2 incubator projects include Bluetooth Evaluation for Siskiyou Summit Chain-Control Chain-Up Area North of Redding (technology) and Long-Term Operational and Safety Impacts of Radar Speed Signs (safety/operations). The Year 1 incubator projects will be completed during the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Technology Incubator: Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices
Data quality is an important consideration for the provision of traveler information. It has generally been handled on an ad-hoc basis, with little or no provision for error notification other than perhaps through user-reporting of observed errors. There is an apparent need for the development of best practices for data quality for the aggregation and dissemination of state department of transportation traveler information, as demonstrated by erroneous data in existing feeds.
Taken individually, the presence of errors may be considered anecdotal. But recognizing that many errors can be present at an arbitrary time, the researchers believe that there is a more systemic problem in regard to data quality of DOT-provided traveler information that affects all state DOTs, with numerous potential points of failure. In light of this, the goal of this project is to analyze and document existing system best practices for data quality for the aggregation and dissemination of state department of transportation traveler information. The types of traveler information to be investigated include the following:
- CCTV images
- RWIS data
- CMS messages
- Chain Requirements
- Construction and/or Lane Closures
- Commercial Vehicle Information
- General Road Information including Road Closures
- Road Conditions (Human-reported, point and segment-based)
- HAR Messages
- Rest Areas, including status and amenities
- Truck Scales / Weigh Stations
Research tasks will include a survey of state Department of Transportation practitioners, a literature review, documentation of best practices, development of recommendations and next steps, and final report generation. As a result of this project, the research team will attempt to determine best practices for data quality for the aggregation and dissemination of traveler information.
Safety/Operations Incubator: Evaluation of the Fredonyer Summit Icy Curve Warning System –Before and After Study of Long-Term Effectiveness
The Fredonyer Pass Icy Curve Warning System (ICWS) was deployed by Caltrans on State Highway 36 to increase driver vigilance and reduce the number of crashes occurring during icy pavement conditions in real-time. An initial evaluation performed during the COATS Phase 4 project evaluated the short term (1 ½ years) performance of the system following its deployment in the winter of 2008-2009. Statistical analysis of speed data found that the system was working as intended and that vehicle speeds were significantly lower when the system was providing warning to drivers. Similarly, a statistical evaluation of crash data found that the deployment of the ICWS reduced the number of annual crashes by 18%. However, due to the short duration of the “after” evaluation period, these results can only be considered tentative. Only an evaluation of the long-term speed and crash trends following system deployment can establish its true effectiveness in achieving the goals of increased driver vigilance and reduced crashes. For this incubator project, the research team will examine the speed and crash trends for the system over the longer term - the time period between the 2008-2009 and 2014-2015 winter seasons.
Technology Incubator: Bluetooth Evaluation for Siskiyou Summit Chain-Control Chain-Up Area North of Redding
The research team will utilize Bluetooth readers upstream, downstream and within a chain-up area to collect information that will allow the development of a preliminary prototype algorithm to predict delays through the chain-up area. More information on this project will be provided when its workplan has been developed.
Safety/Operations Incubator: Long-Term Operational and Safety Impacts of Radar Speed Signs
The research team will perform an evaluation of the long-term effects on crashes and speed trends of Radar Speed Signs using historical data from existing, permanent sign locations in California. More information on this project will be provided when its workplan has been developed.
Proposed Incubator ProjectsTwo incubator project proposals were submitted for consideration by the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium Steering Committee. Project work would be conducted in the second phase of the WSRTC. The project proposals and the notes and discussion from the Steering Committee's review of the proposals are linked below.
Winter Travel Times from Mexico to Canada and Wendover to the Sea
Automated Safety Warning Data Feeds and Virtual Changeable Message Signs
Previous Incubator Projects
Operations Incubator: Regional Integrated Corridor Management Planning
This work moved toward establishing criteria and processes for applying ICM to a rural context. The project demonstrated how the USDOT ICM initiative process could be transferred to a rural application if an agency was interested in doing so. The developed process was applied to two different example bi-state corridors in the WSRTC region. For more information about the project and to review the process that was developed, go to the COATS project update from December 19, 2014.
Safety Incubator: Survey of Western States Safety Warning Devices
Transportation entities across the west have deployed various ITS systems to address a number of different local safety and operational concerns. While such self-contained safety warning systems exist throughout the western United States, there is a lack of documentation related to them, specifically an inventory of what is presently deployed. This synthesis identified where existing deployments are located, what their function/purpose is, and other information of interest. For more information about the project and to read the synthesis document, see the COATS project update from June 30, 2014.
Technology Incubator: WeatherShare Expansion
Previous work funded by Caltrans and conducted by the Western Transportation Institute developed a web-based interface that aggregated weather information, including current and forecast conditions in California, for use primarily by DOT personnel. The system, WeatherShare, collects weather information from a variety of public sources, including the National Weather Service, and tailors it to the needs of DOT personnel, particularly traffic management center (TMC) operators. Emphasis was placed on providing “at-a-glance” capability to recognize weather conditions.
As WeatherShare has become better known outside of California, other states, particularly those in the Consortium, have expressed interest in having the system’s coverage expanded to their state. As a result, this incubator project will investigate the expansion of WeatherShare coverage to Oregon, Washington and Nevada. In doing so, the extension of the system to cover broad regions (i.e., multiple states) will be demonstrated. The expanded coverage of WeatherShare would offer seamless weather information across jurisdictional boundaries, providing DOT personnel with a better picture of conditions both inside their own state, as well as a neighboring state.
Technology Incubator: Chain-Up Delay Tracking with Bluetooth
On northbound I-5 north of Redding, CA, when chain controls are in place, trucks are required to chain up near Fawndale. When these chain restrictions are in place, there can be a backup of trucks for 5 miles or more, all the way to Pine Grove, CA, and beyond. Determining accurate delay times that could be displayed on changeable message signs (CMS) before the backup starts may reduce the wait times and backup length, which could improve safety and reduce driver frustration within this corridor. The intent of the project was to identify locations to deploy Bluetooth loggers and use the readings from these loggers in conjunction with chain control status to develop an algorithm to estimate travel time/delay through the affected area. The thrust of the work completed for this incubator project was to identify the number and location of sites needed to provide sufficient data to accurately determine delay. An Excel file was developed that included detail on the prospective sites, including some comments and rationale for their selection. This project will be continued in COATS Phase 6.