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 7 Workplan, three incubator projects were proposed. Each of the Consortium’s pillars (technology, operations, and safety) are represented among the incubator projects. The first incubator project will be Rural Winter Travel Times. Incubator project 2 will be Chain-Up Delay Tracking with Bluetooth (Part 2), and Incubator Project 3 will be Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices (Part 2).
Safety/Operations Incubator: Rural Winter Travel Times
Winter storms, accidents, wildfires and other major events can have a dramatic negative effect on goods and people movement on our interstate corridors. Year-round use of these facilities can be enhanced by accurate rural travel times between cities. Predicting the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B can be extremely challenging during winter storms or other non-recurring events. However, being able to accurately do this yields very valuable information for the rural traveler. While there are many large private companies that are likely capable of providing this kind of information to the rural traveler, to date none has. And, for whatever reason, there is no indication of private sector interest in filling this information gap. Can this be done effectively? This is unknown, and the intent of a potentially large project is to find out. The intent of this incubator project is to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the viability of estimating rural winter travel times.
Technology Incubator: Chain-Up Delay Tracking with Bluetooth (Part 2)
Near Fawndale, California, on northbound I-5 north of Redding, trucks may be required to chain up or are screened to ensure that they have a full set of chains when chain controls are in place. When these chain restrictions are active, there can be a backup of trucks for 5 miles or more, all the way to Pine Grove and beyond. In the four-lane section near Fawndale, the backup consists of one lane of trucks. Closer to Redding, there is a six-lane section that develops a truck queue in the number two and three lanes. 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 within this corridor. This incubator will utilize yet to be deployed District 2 Bluetooth readers upstream, downstream and within the chain-up area. Using the information from the Bluetooth readers will allow the research team to develop a preliminary prototype algorithm to predict delays through the chain-up area.
Technology Incubator: Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices (Part 2)
Data quality for traveler information 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. Weather-related systems such as MADIS, Mesowest and Clarus have applied quality checks to weather sensor data, but these checks don’t necessarily transfer to other sensor and data types. Further, these checks may not be applicable to department of transportation RWIS sites in the absence of data from additional sites. Some, including Caltrans District 2, have implemented measures of reliability based on network and file transfer performance. The District 2 Information Relay and the DRISI CWWP2 efforts have also included some checks for bad data in CCTV and other feeds. However, part 1 of this incubator project did not find evidence of any unified, multi-dimensional approaches to data quality for aggregation and dissemination of DOT traveler information. Consequently, the goal of part 2 is to develop best practices for traveler information data quality.
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
Safety/Operations Incubator: Evaluation of the Fredonyer Summit Icy Curve Warning System (ICWS) – Before and After Study of Long-Term Effectiveness
The Fredonyer Pass ICWS uses a combination of pavement sensors, RWIS data, and dynamically activated signage to alert drivers in real-time of icy conditions on Fredonyer Pass. The project research team evaluated the effectiveness of the system with a focus on speed reduction under various conditions and safety performance through crash reduction. To review the results of the evaluation and learn more about the project and the system, see the COATS project update from February 24, 2016.
Technology Incubator: Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices (Part 1)
Data quality for traveler information has generally been handled on an ad-hoc basis, with little or no provision for error notification. To analyze and document existing system best practices for traveler information data quality, the research team surveyed DOT practitioners in western states and conducted a literature review on data quality within the transportation field. For more information about the project and to read the detailed survey results and the literature review, go to the COATS project update from August 22, 2016.
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 started in COATS Phase 5 and was continued in COATS Phase 6.