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:

Link, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner Link, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner 2021 Western States Forum Save the Date postcard front, thumbnail Link, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner Link, thumbnail WSRTC mountain logo, group meeting, fact sheet banner The COATS Project - 1998 to Present, COATS fact sheet banner
Report for the Last Half of 2021
February 25th, 2022
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

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

UPDATE: Friday, February 25th, 2022

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's a brief summary of work completed during the last half of 2021.

Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum

The Western States Forum has been the focus of activities for the last several months. The 16th annual event was held October 5 – 7, 2021, in Yreka, California. Even thought it was a different time of year, it was the same high quality technical program and excellent networking opportunities that participants have come to expect from the Forum. There were seven different technical presentations from 12 speakers. You can review the presentations on the Forum website’s 2021 Forum page. More pictures will be coming soon, but here is a view during Jeremiah Pearce’s lead off presentation:

Forum audience from behind looking towards the presenter at the front

Photo by Doug Galarus

After a successful Forum in October, the project team immediately began planning for the 2022 event. Save the Date (pdf)! June 14 – 16 in Yreka, California, for the 17th Annual Western States Forum! Here’s what’s planned for the technical program:

  • Commodity Traffic Cameras as Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Sensing Hardware
    Dan Rossiter
    Southwest Research Institute
  • Evaluation of Road Weather Messages on DMS using Roadside Pavement Sensors
    Skylar Knickerbocker
    Iowa State University
  • The Nevada TSMO Program – A Modern Approach to Solving Old Problems
    LaShonn Ford
    Nevada Department of Transportation
  • Next Generation Work Zone Data Integration and Dissemination – Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) Development from Planning to Operations
    Justin Belk, Joshua Hudson
    Washington State Department of Transportation
  • OptaSense – A New Way to Make it Count
    Eric MacGill
    Nevada Department of Transportation
  • Organizing Chaos: A Tale of Chain Controls and Traffic Queuing
    Keith Koeppen
    Caltrans District 2
  • UDOT's Region Four Intersection Conflict Warning System Phase 2
    Troy Torgersen, Graig Ogden
    Utah Department of Transportation
  • UDOT’s Region Four Variable Speed Limit (VSL) I-15 Corridor in Rural Utah
    Troy Torgersen, Graig Ogden, Cody Opperman
    Utah Department of Transportation

Registration for the Forum will open in early March so keep an eye on your inbox and your mailbox. Event details will also be posted on the Forum website.


On October 5th, the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium held their annual meeting in conjunction with the Western States Forum. The group discussed the status of the WSRTC Pooled Fund and its two active task orders - WSRTC Meeting Coordination, Western States Forum Travel Support and Website Maintenance (WTI Task Order 14), and ASWSC / OSS / WeatherShare Maintenance (Montana Tech Task Order 1). This pooled fund will be ending with the conclusion of these two task orders. To continue the good work of the WSRTC partnership, a new Pooled Fund for Phase 2 of the Consortium has just been opened (TPF-5(494)). Here is the annual meeting agenda (10/05/2021) and you can check back for a more detailed report from the annual meeting.

Group of people around tables; clockwise from left, Jim Whalen, Sean Campbell, Tyler Laing, Jeremiah Pearce, Karthik Murthy, Tony Leingang, Leann Koon

Photo by Doug Galarus

The ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition along with the National Rural ITS Conference were a joint virtual event again this past year. The WSRTC provided support for 98 participants from the WSRTC member states and research institutions. With support from the WSRTC, one participant also attended the ITS America meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Check back here for more updates on the COATS project.

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"