California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) Update - April 19th, 2017


UPDATE: Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Work on COATS Phase 7 got underway recently with a Kick-Off Meeting on February 23, 2017. Project team members agreed to hold a teleconference in lieu of an in person meeting.

The participants in the meeting were:

  • Sean Campbell, Caltrans Division of Research, Innovation, and System Information (DRISI); Project Manager
  • Ian Turnbull, Caltrans District 2; Caltrans Project Champion
  • Jeremiah Pearce, Caltrans District 2
  • Doug Galarus, Western Transportation Institute
  • Leann Koon, Western Transportation Institute

During the Kick-Off Meeting, the team discussed the project’s major tasks. COATS Phase 7 will build on the success of earlier COATS phases to preserve and expand the COATS region as an innovator in rural ITS demonstration. Initiatives to be undertaken in this phase include the Western States Forum, three incubator projects, and maintaining the existing COATS web presence for the technology transfer of results of this effort.

Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum

Sean Campbell from Caltrans DRISI raises his hand and asks a speaker a question during the annual Western States Forum.

The annual Western States Forum will continue during this phase of COATS. The Forum is a meeting focused on providing technology transfer and networking opportunities for professionals working in design, implementation, and maintenance of ITS technologies in rural environments.

Planning for the 12th annual Forum is in full swing and registration is open! This year’s Forum will be held in Yreka, California, June 20th – 22nd, 2017. Check the Forum website ( for more information about this year’s event, including registration materials and the list of topics to be presented.

In the upcoming quarter, second drafts of presentations will be reviewed and feedback provided to speakers. Final versions will be due at the end of May and the agenda will be subsequently set. Event logistics will be finalized and participant notebooks compiled. The Forum and WSRTC websites will be updated accordingly.

Incubator Projects

There are three incubator projects included within the scope of COATS Phase 7. These projects are considered low-cost research efforts that serve as a “proof of concept” to potentially develop into a larger effort in the future or answer research questions in a limited scope.

Incubator 1: 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. The intent of the first incubator project will be to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the viability of estimating travel times in rural areas, particularly during the winter or during non-recurring events.

OSS screenshot, 1/3/2017: Winter conditions along major routes in western United States.

Incubator 2: Chain-Up Delay Tracking with Bluetooth (Part 2)

Incubator Project 2 is a continuation of the Bluetooth evaluation for the chain control chain-up area near Fawndale, north of Redding, California. On northbound I-5 before this area, when chain controls are in place, trucks may be required to chain up or are screened to ensure that they have a full set of chains. 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 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 within this corridor. The research team will utilize yet to be deployed Bluetooth readers placed along the route to develop a preliminary prototype algorithm to predict delays through the chain-up area.

OSS screenshot, 12/23/2017, Caltrans CMS message: All Trucks Chain Check North of Redding.

OSS screenshot, 1/3/2017, Caltrans CCTV: Backup at Fawndale.

Incubator 3: Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information: An Analysis of Existing System Best Practices (Part 2)

Data quality for traveler information data 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. Part 1 of this project revealed that best practices for traveler information data quality were generally lacking; that no unified, multi-dimensional approaches to data quality for aggregation and dissemination of DOT traveler information were apparent. The goal of part 2 of this incubator project is to develop best practices for quality control of traveler information data.

Check back next quarter for more COATS project updates.