Great Lakes ITS Case Study and Lessons Learned for the Airport ITS Integration and Road Infrastructure Management System Projects Final Report, Wayne County, Michigan
In 2001, the U.S. Congress earmarked funds for selected projects that supported improvements in transportation efficiency, safety, traffic flow, reducing emissions, traveler information, alternative transportation modes, existing intelligent transportation systems (ITS), ITS integration, and promoting tourism. One such project was the Great Lakes ITS (GLITS) program in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area, which includes the Wayne County Road Information Management System (RIMS) and the Detroit Metropolitan Airport ITS Integration.
The RIMS Project is intended to integrate information currently gathered and stored in existing databases by various divisions within the Wayne County Department of Public Services (DPS) into one seamless system. Using a Web-based interactive program, the DPS and the traveling public can gain access to information on road conditions, construction project detours, and the real-time locations of DPS maintenance and snow removal crews.
The Detroit Metropolitan Airport ITS Integration project is intended to establish an airport traffic management center, which will be linked with the regional Michigan DOT traffic management center to optimize traffic flow in and out of the airport, as well as to optimize airport landside traffic flow to terminals and short-term parking facilities. The project involves the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and vehicle detectors to allow traffic and security personnel to monitor the entire airport roadway system. Dynamic message signs (DMS) will provide information to travelers to optimize passenger drop-off/pickup and short-term parking decisions.
The funding mechanism and its execution have enormous influence on the success of ITS projects. In the case of ITS Earmark projects, since a portion of the funding is designated by Congressional action, state and local agencies are required to contribute matching funds or the funding will remain unspent until Congressional action rescinds the funds. Since rescinding funds is difficult and undesirable it is more likely that the project may be delayed until matching funds become available.
Wayne County and the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) have experienced project delays to the Wayne County Road Information Management System (RIMS) and Airport projects due to various funding issues. In one case, the formation of the WCAA into an agency separate from Wayne County resulted in funding complications. In another case, procurement issues delayed the awarding of contracts to procure information technology services to assist in the development of the RIMS software application. The following are a few funding related suggestions based on the GLITS project management team experiences.
- Explore alternative funding arrangements when changes within stakeholder organizations complicate funding arrangements. Inter-agency funding arrangements can lead to delays in awarding and executing project contracts. When the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport came under the control of an independent authority and was no longer part of Wayne County, the county had no legal rights or authority at the airport. Since GLITS and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds—which were programmed with the understanding that they would be used for ITS at the airport—are highway funds, under Michigan state law the agency receiving the funds needed to be an eligible government county, city, or village agency (per the requirements of Act 51 of Public Acts of 1951) to administer the highway funds. Consequently, the WCAA (the independent authority) and Wayne County experienced a funding dilemma which resulted in the deployment languishing until both agencies came to an agreement on two things:
- That Wayne County will administer the project.
- That Wayne County will release the CMAQ funds for the Airport ITS project.
- Utilize clearly defined proposal evaluation criteria to determine procurement awards and reduce the likelihood of contractor protests. The Wayne County Department of Technology intended to award two contracts for RIMS hardware. After soliciting for bids and reviewing the proposals, the agency decided on two vendors. However, a non-selected bidder contested the decision and the Department of Technology was forced to delay the procurement while the Wayne County Purchasing Department, Human Relations Division, and Corporation Counsel Department reviewed the evaluation and selection process. The protest review took about one year to resolve. In addition to having a clearly defined set of proposal evaluation criteria, agencies should strive to ensure that bidders understand the procurement process, especially the evaluation factors, their relative importance, and the scoring and selection process.
- Be aware that funding requirements from ITS Earmarks can place unexpected burdens on the recipient agencies. The requirement to provide matching funds to receive the Earmark funding can sometimes cause funds to be diverted from other planned projects. Further, ITS Earmarks can be directed toward local agencies that have little or no expertise in building ITS projects or managing unanticipated ITS funds. Finally, Earmark funds for ITS projects may not be as high a priority for local agencies which are struggling to fund much needed other improvements (e.g., maintenance and repairs).
Since its inception in 2001, the GLITS project management team for the RIMS and Airport ITS Integration projects have encountered a variety of situations that have challenged the development of the projects. Delays in finalizing funding arrangements due to agency reorganizations and procurement issues have resulted in project implementation delays.
This lesson showed how project progress was hampered by issues that affected project funding. Inter-agency transfers of funds in compliance with Michigan state law required Wayne County and the WCAA to establish an agreement on which agency would administer the funds. Also, this lesson described some of the burdens and responsibilities in receiving ITS Earmark funds and administering funds for procurements.