Semisequicentennial Transportation Conference Proceedings
May 1996, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Omaha Metropolitan Area ITS Early Deployment Study

Patrick T. McCoy

Department of Civil Engineering,
W348 Nebraska Hall,
University of Nebraska–Lincoln,
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588–0531.

A strategic plan for the deployment of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in the Omaha metropolitan area was completed in December 1995. The ITS strategic deployment plan identifies 79 projects for implementation over the next 20 years. These projects are expected to provide approximately $900 million in road user cost savings at an estimated total cost of $157 million. The projects include the implementation of traffic control, surveillance, and traveler information systems and an area–wide traffic management and information center. A system architecture and communications master plan to support the deployment of the ITS technologies are presented in the plan. The plan also identifies project priorities, funding sources, and public/private partnership opportunities. An overview of the plan is presented in this paper. The planning process and institutional framework for implementation of the plan are also described. Key words: intelligent transportation systems (ITS), planning, deployment.


Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) is the application of advanced and emerging technologies in the fields of information processing, communications, control, and electronics to transportation. ITS includes applications of these technologies in the areas of traffic control, traveler information, public transportation, and incident management. Potential benefits of ITS are more efficient use of the transportation infrastructure and energy resources and significant improvements in safety, mobility, accessibility, and productivity. Concerned about the future impacts of increased traffic congestion on the safety and efficiency of transportation and its effects on the environment and quality of life, state and local highway transportation officials undertook a study to determine the needs and opportunities for the implementation of ITS technologies in the Omaha metropolitan area. The objective of the study was to develop a strategic plan for the deployment of ITS technologies that will be most beneficial to the Omaha metropolitan area. The study was initiated in November 1994 and completed in December 1995.

PLANNING PROCESS

The initial step in the development of the strategic plan was the definition of the needs and opportunities for the deployment of ITS user services in the Omaha metropolitan area. This definition involved an inventory and evaluation of the existing transportation system to obtain information pertinent to ITS user services in the areas of transportation management, traveler information, public transportation, commercial vehicle operations, and incident management. In addition, ITS goals and objectives for the Omaha metropolitan area were defined based on an analysis of the transportation goals and objectives expressed in the plans and policies of the jurisdictions in the metropolitan area.

Next, the ITS user services defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (1) were evaluated to identify those that are applicable to the Omaha metropolitan area. The applicable ITS user services were defined as those that support the ITS goals and objectives and address the transportation needs and opportunities of the Omaha metropolitan area. Once the applicable ITS user services were determined, ITS technologies which support them were identified. The ITS projects and programs were then developed and synthesized into deployment scenarios for the implementation of the technologies in the short, medium, and long terms. A systems architecture and communications master plan to support the deployment of the ITS technologies were also developed.

Finally, the ITS projects and programs in the deployment scenarios were evaluated to determine their costs, benefits, and staffing requirements. Funding sources, public/private partnership opportunities, and institutional considerations associated with the projects and programs were also examined. Based on the results of this analysis, the strategic plan was developed. The plan defines the ITS projects and programs recommended for implementation in the Omaha metropolitan area over the next 20 years. In addition, the plan indicates the phasing and priorities of the ITS projects and programs.

STUDY PARTICIPANTS

The study was a joint effort of a coalition led by the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR), the Omaha Metropolitan Planning Agency (MAPA), and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL). Other members of the coalition were the following agencies: City of Omaha Department of Public Works, Douglas County Engineer's Office, Sarpy County Surveyor's Office, City of Bellevue Department of Public Works, Metro Area Transit, Iowa Department of Transportation, and City of Council Bluffs Department of Public Works. The NDOR was responsible for oversight and review of the study. The MAPA was responsible for local coordination and study review, and the UNL was responsible for conducting the study.

A subcommittee of the MAPA Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC) was formed to serve as a steering committee for the study. The ITS subcommittee provided oversight and guidance during the course of the study. The committee reviewed and discussed study progress and reports and served to focus the primary issues pertinent to the development of the ITS strategic deployment plan.

Focus groups were formed to facilitate the planning process. Several meetings were held with these groups to identify the needs, opportunities, goals, objectives, issues, and concerns relative to the deployment of ITS technologies in the Omaha metropolitan area. The groups also provided input pertinent to the evaluation of alternative ITS projects and programs for inclusion in the strategic plan. The following focus groups were organized:

PROJECTS

The ITS strategic deployment plan identifies 79 projects for implementation in the Omaha metropolitan area over the next 20 years. These ITS projects are expected to provide approximately $900 million in weekday, road user cost savings at a total estimated cost of $157 million, yielding an overall road user benefit–to–cost ratio of nearly six to one. The ITS strategic deployment plan defines three deployment scenarios for the implementation of the ITS projects: (1) short term, within the next five years, 1995 to 2000; (2) medium term, within five to 10 years, 2000 to 2005; and (3) long term, within 10 to 20 years, 2005 to 2015. The deployment scenarios provide the framework for the effective integration of the ITS technologies based on a logical, incremental sequencing of projects. Also, the scenarios enable the appropriate evaluation of emerging ITS technologies in small–scale operational tests to verify their feasibility prior to full–scale implementation in the metropolitan area. The projects are organized into the following seven categories within each scenario: (1) Signal Systems, (2) Surveillance, (3) Area–Wide Traffic Management and Information Center, (4) Traveler Information Systems, (5) Incident Management, (6) Travel Demand Management, and (7) Deployment Support.

SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE

The system architecture for the deployment of ITS technologies in the Omaha metropolitan area over the next 20 years is shown in Figure 1. The architecture is consistent with the national architecture (1) and the FHWA core ITS infrastructure concept (2). The system features an area-wide traffic management and information center (ATMIC), which will be the focal point of data collection, information processing and dissemination, and coordination of traffic control and incident management activities. The ATMIC will receive roadway and transit system surveillance and detection system data from a variety of sources provided by both public and private sector entities. These data will be processed at the ATMIC for the purposes of traveler information and incident management. Information about incidents detected by the ATMIC will be sent to the traffic management centers and appropriate response agencies and input to the traveler information system.

The traffic management centers will include the local traffic signal systems in Omaha and Council Bluffs and freeway management centers, which will operated by the state highway transportation agencies. The traffic and freeway management centers will monitor and control traffic on the roadways within their jurisdictions. Each center will be connected to the ATMIC via a wide–area computer network. Although each agency controls its own roadway system, it can monitor operations in the systems of the other agencies. The transit management center operated by the Metropolitan Area Transit (MAT) will also be connected to the ATMIC. MAT will provide transit system status data to ATMIC for the traveler information system and receive traffic and road condition information from the traffic and freeway management centers via the ATMIC.

INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR IMPLEMENTATION

The multijurisdictional scope of the ITS strategic deployment plan requires an institutional framework for implementation that will adequately address any overlapping and conflicting interests that may arise among the participating and affected agencies and facilitate coordination and cooperation among the entities. Therefore, it is recommended that the ITS strategic deployment plan be incorporated into the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) planning process administered by MAPA. To accomplish this, the institutional framework illustrated in Figure 2 is recommended. In this framework, two focus groups would be formed, a Traffic Management Focus Group and an Incident Management Focus Group. Both groups would provide input to the TIP planning process activities of the TTAC.

The Traffic Management Focus Group would be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the projects in the following project categories: Signal Systems, Surveillance, ATMIC, Traveler Information Systems, and Travel Demand Management. Similarly, the Incident Management Focus Group would be responsible for the projects in the Incident Management category.

The focus groups would identify a lead agency for each project. The lead agency would perform the following tasks for the project(s) assigned to it: (1) identify other involved agencies and prepare cooperative agreements, (2) apply for funding, (3) coordinate with appropriate deployment support programs (i.e., public/private partnerships, education, and intermodal coordination), (4) identify oversight responsibilities for study, design, implementation, and operation, and (5) coordinate with the other focus group and TTAC.

In addition to the two focus groups, MAPA should identify separate lead agencies for the public/private partnerships, education, and intermodal coordination deployment support programs. These agencies would be responsible for coordinating the activities of these programs to support the work of the two focus groups and facilitate the implementation of ITS.

REFERENCES
  1. National ITS Program Plan, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Vol. I and II. First Edition. ITS America, Washington, D.C., March 1995.
  2. Core Infrastructure for ITS Deployment in Metropolitan Areas. Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, FHWA/HTV–10:Version 1.7, March 22, 1995.

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