In rural areas, communication networks that provide immediate access to remote data controls on field data can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and maintenance activities.
Date Posted

ATIS Evaluation Framework

Summary Information

The Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC) evaluated five Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) projects for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT): the Edmonds Ferry Terminal, State Route 101, State Routes 2 and 97, State Route 395, and the Tacoma TMC Enhancement. The projects involved the deployment of a range of devices in both urban and rural environments. Four of the projects provided traveler information using highway advisory radio (HAR), dynamic message signs (DMS), and road weather information systems (RWIS). One project involved the expansion of a traveler information communications backbone with a fiber optic link to a traffic management center (TMC). All of the projects received Federal ITS funding in FY 1999. TRAC's first step in evaluating the ATIS projects was to develop a standardized methodology. The methodology focused on technical, management, and organizational lessons learned. The methodology proved effective in producing useful information about ATIS benefits and deployment issues. On the basis of these evaluations, guidelines for planning and operating ATIS programs were developed to provide a better understanding of ways to approach future ATIS projects.

One of the projects implemented on SR-2 and SR-97 included the deployment of a traveler information system on two heavily traveled mountain passes subject to high snowfall and avalanche closures during the winter months. The objective was to augment and improve traveler information systems to effectively communicate weather, road surface condition, and closure information to travelers and maintenance crews. To evaluate qualitative impacts, interviews were conducted with WSDOT project managers and the operations and maintenance staff.

  • With improved communication links between operation centers and field equipment, maintenance personnel can spend more time improving roadway conditions instead of traveling to remote sites to manually update or confirm the operation of field devices. Before the communications system was enhanced, maintenance crews responsible for maintaining dynamic message sign (DMS) messaging on rural mountain highways had to suspend plowing operations for up to an hour to travel to DMS sites to manually change messages during stormy weather. Now that wireless control systems are installed, crews can spend more time plowing and clearing roadways.
  • Enhanced communications systems provide maintenance crews with better radio communications and device access.
  • Remote access to road condition data (e.g., RWIS sensors) enables crews to more efficiently forecast future weather and road conditions, make snowplowing decisions, and prioritize maintenance tasks and routes.