WSRTTIF Update - August 24th, 2015


UPDATE: Monday, August 24th, 2015

Held in Yreka, California, June 16th through the 18th, this year’s Western States Forum brought together 39 ITS engineers and practitioners from across the western United States. Eight technical presentations, given by representatives of six state DOT’s, covered a diverse range of topics such as changeable message sign innovations, automated chain control and parking management systems, winter maintenance, and roadside Wi-Fi systems.

Meeting room during 2015 technical presentations.

Photo by Doug Galarus

The first day commenced with a presentation from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) about the Multnomah Falls Parking Management System, an innovative, intelligent system capable of automatically closing an exit ramp and alerting travelers upon closure of the popular destination’s parking lot. ODOT ITS Engineers Dennis Mitchell (left) and Doug Spencer (right) led the discussion.

Oregon DOT engineers Dennis Mitchell and Doug Spencer teamed up to present the Multnomah Falls Parking Management System. Here, Dennis is discussing some of the operational impacts of the system (parking occupancy vs. gate activations).

Photo by Doug Galarus

Israel Lopez from Nevada DOT’s Traffic Operations Technology Section presented the Nevada Data Exchange (NDEX).  The NDEX aggregates the State’s data utilizing a standardized data dictionary to provide a way for different entities to interact with a centralized data store—this allows for the querying of historical data as well as effective visualization of key performance metrics. Israel explained the problem and need for the project along with the resulting technical needs and requirements.  He is pictured below describing the components of the NDEX:

Israel Lopez from Nevada DOT’s Traffic Operations Technology Section presented the Nevada Data Exchange (NDEX).

Photo by Doug Galarus

Wyoming DOT’s Mark Kelly spoke about the department’s latest effort to improve communication during critical weather events. Wyoming DOT developed a tablet reporting app for use by maintenance personnel (i.e., drivers of snow plows, foreman trucks), enabling them to quickly provide important roadway information for dissemination on the WYOROAD website.  At the same time, WYDOT also installed Wi-Fi hotspots at various locations to complement Wyoming’s statewide current low speed “P25 data” communications network.  In the picture below, Mark is giving a live demonstration of the tablet app.

 Mark Kelly demonstrates the WYDOT tablet app.

Photo by Doug Galarus

David Wells, Caltrans Senior Transportation Electrical Engineer and AVMS Project Manager, discussed the in-house development of a new advanced variable message sign. He reviewed the various off-the-shelf components of the sign as well as the custom Pixel Matrix Modules, the Remote I/O Box, and the Test Box.  Along with the design advantages of the new sign, Mr. Wells also described the features and benefits of the improved custom sign control software.  In this photo, David is explaining the software created to test multiple Pixel Matrix Modules.

David explains the software created for testing Pixel Matrix Modules.

Photo by Doug Galarus

A welcome goes out to Utah DOT as they participated in the Forum for the first time this year!  Corey Coulam, a program manager for the Utah Traffic Operations Center at UDOT, presented the Utah Citizen Reporter Program, a crowd-sourcing app with the goal of supplementing current road condition data. The Utah Citizen Reporter Program enlists trained volunteers to report road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. The discussion included the program’s goals, technical and ideological structure, integration with Utah’s traveler information system, and a summary of participation statistics.  Corey is pictured below.

Corey Coulam discusses UDOT's Citizen Reporter Program.

Photo by Doug Galarus

ITS engineer Keith Koeppen of Caltrans District 2 discussed and demonstrated the Safety Chain Control System he and his project team developed to enhance worker safety in severe weather conditions. Along Interstate 5 in Yreka, California, where signs that display current chain conditions to the motoring public are manually changed during storms, Caltrans personnel have traditionally been placed at risk as they traverse sections of roadway multiple times. The new system is semi-automated and allows field maintenance workers to activate the chain condition signs remotely from a cell phone or traffic cabinet.  Mr. Koeppen explained the technical architecture of the system, described the system’s details, and discussed the deployment of the system and associated challenges.  Here Keith is showing the various components of the system’s controller cabinet.

Keith Koeppen of Caltrans District 2 shows various componenents of the Safety Chain Control System cabinet.

Photo by Doug Galarus

Martha Styer, a Senior Transportation Electrical Engineer for Caltrans Division of Traffic Operations, and Dr. Dali Wei, a post doc researcher at UC Davis and software developer for Trans Intelligence, presented and demonstrated the TranSync Mobile Tool. Instead of using personnel observation of traffic, TranSync is a useful tool for signal operations engineers to verify and quantify signal timing improvements, in real-time. Ms. Styer reviewed the basics of signal timing and the current practices for optimization, as well as how the TranSync tool could improve upon the current techniques.  Here’s Martha:

Martha Styer speaks about the TranSync Mobile Tool.

Photo by Leann Koon

Dr. Wei demonstrated the app and discussed the results of case studies completed in Auburn, Yuba City, and Mountain View, California.  Here’s Dali:

Dali Wei demonstrates the TranSync Mobile Tool.

Photo by Doug Galarus

Bob Koeberlein, Headquarters Operations Engineer for the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), provided an update on the Winter Performance Measures program and the latest results of the program’s implementation.  He reviewed the concept behind the program, the transition from testing to full implementation, and growth of the system.  This presentation provided an update to the talk given by Dennis Jensen at the 2013 Forum.  Here, Bob is discussing technical details about ITD’s RWIS sites and explaining how they are used for the winter performance measures.

Bob Koeberlein discusses the technical details of ITD's RWIS sites.

Photo by Doug Galarus

Since its inception ten years ago, the Forum has focused on providing engineers, maintenance personnel and technicians with highly technical information about rural ITS projects. The Forum is unique in that questions and dialogue are encouraged throughout the presentation versus just at the end.  This year’s presentations generated lively discussions across all of the topics.  Here are a few pictures:

Jason Shaddix from the Oregon DOT asks a speaker a question.

Photo By: Doug Galarus

Several people have their hands raised to ask Israel Lopez (NDOT) some questions.

Photo By: Doug Galarus

Several people have their hands raised to ask some questions.

Photo By: Doug Galarus

Koon Tse from Caltrans District 8 talks about his experience with traffic signal timing software during the Caltrans TranSync presentation.

Photo By: Leann Koon

Transparency and trust are important tenets of the Forum’s mission.  To encourage this, over the years the Forum has maintained the rural perspective while continuing to create an informal atmosphere.  There are ample opportunities to network with peers during meals and extended breaks, and the Wednesday evening dinner and networking session was held at a local campground again this year. 

To maintain the rural perspective and continue to foster transparency and trust with an informal atmosphere, an evening dinner and networking session were held at a campground.

Photo by Leann Koon

For detailed presentation summaries, as well as downloadable PDF slides, please visit the 2015 Forum page on the Forum’s website.

Thank you to all who helped make the 10th Annual Western States Forum a success!  See you in Yreka next year – June 21st-23rd, 2016.