Wrong-way driving (WWD) is an immediate, urgent hazard on any roadway, whenever and wherever it occurs. That’s why it was a significant development when the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) became the first agency to pilot Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) as a WWD countermeasure. CFX initially set out to develop a better understanding of issues related to wrongway driving, as a first step in deploying systems to minimize or mitigate the problem. Its research focused on equipping Wrong-Way signs with RRFBs, radar or laser detection, and cameras to detect, deter and prevent wrong-way drivers from using exit ramps to enter the toll road mainline. Its evaluation of RRFBs involved testing on five ramps along the roadway network, one on State Road 528 and four on State Road 408.
Toll Operations, Engineering & Maintenance
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority introduced its traffic permitting and lane closure application to more efficiently manage the more than 850 weekly lane closure requests it receives. The electronic system replaces the previous paper-based method of collecting, resolving, and communicating requests and managing the associated traffic permits. The new operations infrastructure limits the authority’s liability, provides speedy response and approvals to contractors and, most important, delivers timely, accurate lane closure information to the travelling public.
Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A
Purpose and Objectives
In 2011, Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A launched a three-year initiative to improve procedures and operational efficiencies in winter operations. Key performance indicators for the project included 90% reductions in snow-realted traffic gridlock and congestion, and in situations where the travelling public had insufficient information on highway conditions.
Efficiency targets included:
- 20% reduction in the cost of salting
- 50% reduction in the cost of winter maintenance teams
- Reduced overall cost of winter operations, with no loss in effectiveness, by restructuring management and opening winter maintenance services to a wider pool of vendors.
The agency also engaged a professional weather forecasting service to provide continuous updates on potential storm conditions.
- €4 million budget, 90% of it to acquire and outfit new vehicles, funded with internal resources
- 100% reduction in traffic gridlock due to snow, from 40.7 hours in 2010/2011 to 0 hours in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014
- 93% reduction in congestion due to snow, from 240.4 hours in 2010/2011 to 17.6 hours in 2013/2014
- 91% reduction in situations where customers had insufficient information, from 69 in 2010 to six in 2013
- 20% reduction in salting costs
75% reduction in winter maintenance costs.
In 2013, Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A received ISO 9001 certification for winter operations management. By that time, the EEWO Project had delivered new strategies for managing winter operations and heavy snowfalls, in-depth training for regional and headquarters staff, and a more efficient strategy for sourcing and deploying road salt, resulting in a 10% reduction in the number of vehicles required to service a 13% increase in lane kilometers.
Enrico Valeri, Coordinator of Operating Network
The Autostrada del Brennero SpA,home of the A22 motorway, won in the category of Operations for successfully experimenting with eco-friendly, noise reducing sound barriers along the 315 km (196 mi) route. The A22 motorway collaborated with the community of Isera to erect the first solar-powered noise protection wall in Italy. The wall’s soundproofing protects the towns and communities located near the southbound stretch of the motorway, measuring 1067 m (3500 ft) long and 5.6 m (just over 18 ft) tall. The surface accommodates 3944 photovoltaic panels, which help to generate electrical power. The photovoltaic plant actively contributes to maintaining air quality and helps to reduce the greenhouse effect, and ultimately reduces global warming. The A22 motorway continues to move towards erecting sound-absorbing noise barriers wherever possible, equipped with photovoltaic panels.
The North Texas Tollway Authority’s (NTTA) mission is to enhance mobility through responsible and innovative tolling solutions. As of December 11, 2010, the NTTA became the United State’s largest tolling system to convert its approximately 65 miles of toll roads, bridges and tunnels to all-electronic toll collection (all-ETC), eliminating cash collection in the lanes. All-ETC improves air quality, fuel efficiency and time savings through reduced stop-and-go traffic and idling at toll booths. It also heightens motorist and employee safety through the elimination of merging and weaving at and around toll booths. The operational savings NTTA will realize over time will be reinvested in other North Texas mobility projects.
In 2007, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) identified a customer need to obtain a TxTag® transponder on the roadway as opposed to driving to the Customer Service Center, ordering one through the mail or visiting retail outlet. To meet this demand, the Texas Turnpike Authority (TTA) Division of TxDOT created the In-Lane Tag Sales program. This program made TxTag transponders available for purchase at all of their mainline toll plazas on the Central Texas Turnpike System (CTTS) in the attended cash collection lanes. Drivers traveling on Loop 1, State Highway (SH) 45 north, and SH 130 in the Austin, Texas area could now purchase funded TxTag transponders at a mainline plaza for $20 cash, install the tag and use it immediately. The program was well received from drivers on the CTTS, and as of March 2010, more than 120,000 tags had been sold through the In-Lane Tag Sales program. The TTA Division continually strives to provide drivers with customer-centric programs and approaches, representing leadership in the toll industry. The In-Lane Tag Sales program is an excellent addition to that culture, making toll facilities both more user-friendly and more affordable to customers on the go.
Two separate motor vehicle accidents caused by motorists traveling in the wrong direction along the Westpark Tollway occurred within a span of four months in late 2006. Both of these horrific accidents resulted in a number of fatalities. The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) immediately began investigating technologies that could help detect vehicles entering the tollway in the wrong direction. After rigorously testing the reliability and accuracy of various technologies, HCTRA selected a readily deployable technology. Wrong way detection stations were designed and deployed at each egress point along the Westpark Tollway in addition to various locations along the tollway’s mainline, for a total of 14 separate detection sites.
The SunWatch Operations Center is a command-and-control technical support center specifically designed to manage toll collection systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As the hub of FTE’s complex tolling network – FTE operates more than 750 toll lanes across 606 miles from Miami to north Florida – SunWatch computers track equipment, systems, software and facilties, allowing staff to keep their fingers on the pulse of the system’s performance throughout the entire state. Through technology, they can detect and diagnose problems remotely, often making repairs from their work stations. In addition, a toll-free number into the Center allows toll-plaza personnel to report problems. SunWatch staff assess critical incidents, and when warranted, dispatch a technician to the site for speedy maintenance. SunWatch is FTE’s “high-tech eyes” on the system that work to maintain peak performance by effecting repairs swiftly, whether remotely or by efficiently deploying the 150 technical support professionals stationed across the state. In keeping with its sophisticated technology, and to allow SunWatch staff to quickly access information about the system and deploy resources, all information is depicted graphically, utilizing high-tech wall-size monitors with map overlays, status charts and alarm screens.
The Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority has built an exceptional transportation project to address the severe traffic congestion facing daily commuters to downtown Tampa — a 10-mile long set of reversible express lanes using a state-of-the-art open road tolling (ORT) system. The heart of the new facility is an elegant, distinctive three-lane, reversible bridge, constructed in segments at an off-site factory, then delivered to the Expressway and assembled in the median of the existing four lane roadway. Because of its unusual design, the bridge was built entirely within the existing right-of-way, dramatically reducing project costs and virtually eliminating any impacts to the adjacent community or the environment. The reversible lanes are for cars and express buses only and have more than doubled the capacity of the existing tollway, completely eliminating congestion during peak commuting hours. And, in addition to the world’s first reversible ORT solution, the toll system also includes an innovative video toll collection product to provide non-stop travel for customers on the new bridge. This combination of timesavings, convenience, reliability and safety has resulted in traffic volumes that are more than 25% over original projections for the first year of operation.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) implemented the state’s first optional toll lane project called the I-394 MnPASS in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. This project, which opened in May 2005, converts the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-394 into high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, allowing solo drivers the opportunity to pay an electronic fee to bypass congestion. This very unique design necessitated an innovative approach to traffic management and open road tolling. As a HOT facility, the lanes remain open to HOV use at no charge for transit riders, car pools and motorcyclists.
ASF experienced, during 2004 and 2005 peak periods, an innovative traffic management technique on one of Europe’s busiest corridor : the “speed control system”. Based on the use of a specially written algorithm and a range of ITS technologies, this experiment aimed at applying, on a 90-km long motorway stretch, dynamic “speed limits” depending on traffic volumes. The objectives of this experiment were a gain in capacity, safety and driving comfort. The evaluation results of the system, provided early 2005, proved to be fully satisfactory. It highlighted exceptional results : (1)An increase by 10% of total traffic flowed during peak periods ; (2)A drop of congestion volumes by 16%, which was valued at 1,8 Million US$ of socio-economic gain; (3)An average time gain of 10% for all vehicles concerned by the experiment, (4)A decrease by 48% of the number of accidents, (5) An excellent respect of “speed instructions” given to the drivers and a very good appreciation of the system by road users.
ASF worked closely with Météo France in order to create a weather forecasting system that would help ASF be prepared ahead of time for all kinds of winter weather and would also provide motorists with up-to-date weather and road condition information. After implementing the project in 2002, ASF has successfully handled two serious weather crises. The ASF system has provided improved quality weather information, which has made it possible for ASF staff to prepare appropriately for any weather crisis and to lower operational costs.
In the endeavor to pursue creative and efficient management practices, the Authority has undertaken an initiative to manage and access their substantial data sets through the implementation of an integrated, enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS). First, the Authority conducted a needs assessment in order to evaluate existing data sets, existing hardware and software, demonstrate how GIS software can be used and finally, develop an implementation schedule. The primary benefit of the enterprise GIS project has been the organization-wide deployment of data and GIS-based tools that provide access to highly accurate and timely data across the organization.
The program required the development of cooperative partnerships with various departments associated with HCTRA, and outlines an immediate plan of action required from any and/or all participating agencies. In addition to HCTRA's Incident Management Team, such agencies include Constable deputies from five precincts that have jurisdiction on the toll road system; various fire departments; HAZMAT; assisting maintenance and environmental clean-up contractors, etc. along with key HCTRA departmental personnel. The program is in place to ensure a preplanned and coordinated response to incidents on-or-affecting the Toll Road system, as well as outlining effective media/public awareness communications procedures. HCTRA's Incident Management plan also called for the development of a motorist assistance program to assist patrons (free of charge) with minor automotive emergencies and remove stalled or incapacitated vehicles from the road as quickly as possible. The agency's Patron Emergency Assistance Team (PEAT) began as a pilot program and has been enthusiastically welcomed by HCTRA patrons. PEAT plays an integral part in achieving the program's objectives and its planned expansion will provide total coverage of the entire toll road system and extended service hours.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority
Social Responsibility | 2014
Purpose and Objectives
On May 19 and 20, 2013, several tornados touched down in central Oklahoma, causing widespread destruction and devastation in several communities. A deadly EF5 tornado tore through heavily-populated Moore, OK, and also hit smaller communities north and east of Moore. The damage inflicted by the tornados included 24 dead, 377 injured, and 3,937 homes and businesses destroyed. Following a declaration of emergency by Oklahoma Governor Fallin and President Obama, OTA stepped forward to help clean up the aftermath of the storms and restore key transportation corridors, enabling emergency responders and volunteers to get to the scene of the devastation.
Given the widespread destruction, restoration of transportation infrastructure was a critical need. With obstructions limiting access to the disaster area, OTA crews worked to clear inbound and outbound roadways, removing debris and hauling it to a local dump. OTA’s efforts made it possible for first responders, relief agencies, and volunteers to respond to the significant needs experienced by local residents and businesses, thereby contributing to a sense of hope and recovery for the communities that were devastated by the storms.
Under state protocols, the Turnpike Authority was deployed through the state Secretary of Transportation as part of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (ODEM). Emergency services were underwritten by reallocating hourly and overtime salaries from routine maintenance activities—all of which are funded through OTA toll revenues.
The Oklahmoa Turnpike Authority focused its cleanup efforts on city streets and residential lots, using heavy equipment to help people who had no other way to quickly remove large volumes of debris.
OTA was onsite the morning after the May 20 tornado, with crews putting in long, hard days under tough conditions until their portion of the work was complete. OTA mobilized the human resources required to get the job done quickly and efficiently. When the situation called for more or different equipment, field managers had the authority and ability to buy what they needed. The Authority’s efforts earned praise from the Secretary of Transportation, ODEM, the affected communities, and local media.
When the OTA crews were first deployed, they arrived with large front-end loaders. It quickly became clear that these large pieces of equipment were less than ideal for the confined space between city street curbs, so the Authority quickly brought in skid-steer loaders that were more suitable for the work that had to be done. When work crews realized that grapple attachments on the skid-steers would make recovery operations more efficient, the grapple attachments were purchased and used.
OTA’s response to the Moore tornados showed how tolling agencies can help citizens who are unable to help themselves in a time of emergency and devastation. By being good neighbors and answering the call, the Authority quickly cleared essential access routes and established closer bonds with its community. Working together, OTA crews from different turnpikes built their own sense of connection and achieved greater pride and team spirit.