Let’s hope there’s money in the transportation compromise crafted by the General Assembly (to be announced at 4 p.m.) for one of the cooler initiatives in the Kaine administration’s proposed transportation package. Bacon’s Rebellion reporter Peter Galuszka sat down earlier this week with transportation secretary Pierce Homer and technology secretary Aneesh Chopra to get the skinny on their proposal to create a $20 million fund for Intelligent Transportation Systems. (Read the article, “ITS Wits.”)

The Kaine administration would use the money to spark ideas and public-private partnerships for applying information technology to congestion-mitigation projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. The top priority would be to put more real-time traffic information into the hands of commuters and businesses so they can alter their routes or travel schedules to side-step gridlocked roads. As I have stressed repeatedly, Virginia cannot build its way out of traffic congestion: We must address the demand side of the equation as well. Intelligent Transporation Systems are one potentially cost-effective way to do that.

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5 responses to “ITS Wits”

  1. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    I know a great deal about ITS and ATMSs – especially here in Hampton Roads where we have “invested” over $1B in our regional Smart Traffic Center (STC) and ATMS systems.

    The problem with the way VDOT uses their STCs is that they have done nothing to reduce traffic congestion!! For years … and years … and years.

    To cheery pick and produce instant results from the $1B my region has already spent the most logical thing to do is to increase the number of FIRT trucks/teams and train the State Police and first responders to expedite clearing accidents off the highways ASAP!.

    With the more than 100 cameras in our regions 100+ miles of STC controlled highways, the ITS infrastructure has existed for a long time to immediately observe accidents – and immeduately dispatch teams to remove the accidents from our highways.

    This simply has NOT happened. In fact, one of the first things Gov. warner cut when he was balancing his budget – was funding for the FIRT teams!!!

    ITS and ATMS are a intelligent part of the solution to our transportation challenges.

    But once again, no priority for reducing traffic congestion appears to exist at VDOT!

    Thus, in our region we already HAVE an amazing ITS and ATMS network up and running – complete with an amazing STC with a GIANT video wall command center staffed 24/7.

    We have tons of cameras – HUGE computer controlled message signs along the highway – a radio station – you name it, we got it.

    But it does NOTHING to reduce traffic congestion.

    The wisest things to do are to immediately train first responder teams – and make it a PRIORITY that they clear the roads ASAP and reduce traffic congestion due to accidents clogging the roadways.

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Look forward to seeing how much taxes will be raised and if it includes regional government – again.

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    This is so very wrong….

    It should be contracted out with benchmarks and performance criteria with incentives and penalties.

    This is exact the kind of project that VDOT will spend gobs of money on and produce something that – at best – will be som crippled version of something that would work great if private industry did it.

    One of the problems is that there are many different sources of traffic information… in different formats and protocols… that have to be “fused” together…. (synthesized).

    VDOT is, in my view, incapable of doing this kind of work that is. in some respects, cutting edge technology.

    All we will be doing will be creating another fiefdom inside of VDOT – to decide on their own what the public should have – rather than providing what the public needs – indeed – to engage the public in the process at all… rather than at the back end after millions of dollars and a system the public hates and/or cannot use.

    Even if VDOT did this perfectly – and, trust me, they will not – it would be done much more cost-effectively by private industry… in the marketplace.

    I have a GPS unit – that already does this…. for a monthly service charge.

    So VDOT is competing already against private enterprise – which they should not be doing.. and second.. they’ll more than likely waste a bunch of tax dollars.

    The $20 million is a low-ball sucker promise. After all is said and done…it will be far higher – I predict.

    I wish I could be more supportive but unless someone can post a VDOT “success” story on this kind of technology..I’m still a skeptic.

  4. Ray Hyde Avatar

    My experience with the intelligent signs is that half the time they are wrong.

    If they predict congestion and they are right, so what? There are no usable alternatives to take.

    I’m sure there aremore possibilites to this than Reid exposes, but not much more.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Right now.. in the marketplace – the makers of GPS units are establishing partnership with cell phone companies to do traffic counts by “counting” the number of cell phones on a segment AND by summarizing the info and making it accessible to the GPS units vis bluetooth/cell phone connections.

    This is something that VDOT should NOT be doing. They’re going to spend a huge amount of money competing against the private sector to produce at best some half-assed product that the public won’t want nor buy and it will ultimately be OBE (overtaken by events) in the private sector.

    The fact that VDOT wants to do this tells me a LOT about where VDOT’s thinking is.. where their priorities ARE and where they are NOT.

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