SMART WORK ZONE TECHNOLOGY TO INCREASE TRAVEL IN TUSCALOOSA
State Departments of Transportation have been increasingly deploying Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), also known as Smart Work Zones, in work zones over the last several years with the goal of improving traffic operations and safety by providing real time information to the travelling public. The ultimate goal of a Smart Work Zone is to detect the queue formation and trigger those real-time traffic conditions far enough in advance to prevent rear-end collisions as well as increase the safety through the work zone. After the widening of I-20/I-59 in Tuscaloosa began, traffic conditions worsened with long queues, secondary crashes and extreme delayed travel times, so Alabama DOT officials turned to technology to help mitigate the problems. Hill & Smith teamed with Ozark Traffic Management, LLC to deploy a queue detection system consisting of high definition Wavetronix SS126 sensors, CohuHD cameras, Work Area Protection full matrix LED message boards, and BlueToad Bluetooth detectors. The team fully integrated the system into a web-based software system that enables you to control, track, and monitor all of the ITS field devices throughout the entire project. For ease of use and complete control of your project, all approved users can view, control and recalibrate the project all through their mobile phone, laptop or tablet. This feature allows users to be outside of their network but still have complete access and control over their project.
HOW IT WORKS
Trailer mounted high definition Wavetronix SS126 sensors that monitor lane by lane speed, volume of passing cars, density of traffic, and classification of vehicles are placed approximately every half mile throughout the work zone. Whenever traffic speeds drop below a certain threshold determined by the traffic engineers, automated messages are then triggered to post on the full matrix LED message boards upstream of the slowed zone to alert incoming travelers of the conditions ahead so they are not only aware of potential back-ups but also able to make an informed decision as to a possible alternate route. In addition to the queue detection, Ozark Traffic and Hill & Smith deployed high definition Cohu cameras every mile throughout the work zone to monitor traffic conditions and more effectively manage incidents. BlueToad Bluetooth detectors were also placed at the exits and along the detour route to give accurate travel times throughout the work zone. All of the ITS devices report to the central software where the ALDOT Traffic Management Center staff can view the conditions and make operational changes as needed. Ozark Traffic Management LLC’s trained staff continually monitors the system and makes routine maintenance visits to ensure the queue detection’s reliability. In coordination with the prime contractor and ALDOT, Ozark Traffic Management responds in a timely manner to relocation needs, recalibration of sensors as needed and any changes in the system based on current traffic conditions translating to a very dynamic technology solution for
the project stakeholders.
With the amount of data being collected and delivered by the Smart Work Zone System, ALDOT and their consultants are able to analyze traffic patterns to make more informed decisions on possible alternate route options, more efficient lane closures or shifts, and an overall reduction of travel time delays. ALDOT is able to use this information along with the Federal Highway Administration’s Smart Work Zone scoring guidelines to determine future deployments and potential increases in hours of operations for the Prime contractors. In the end, the use of this technology is creating not only a tremendously safer environment for the traveling public and the work zone personnel but also putting real-time data in the hands of ALDOT to make better real-time decisions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]