Consider implementing interim traffic management systems (ITMS) for long-term construction projects.
Lessons Learned in the Palm Beach ITMS Deployment and Operation
Made Public Date

Palm Beach County Interim Traffic Management System (ITMS): Lessons Learned in the ITMS Deployment and Operation, Final Evaluation Report


Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT) is widening I-95 in Palm Beach County between 2001 and 2013. It was expected that during construction of the major new interchanges there would be an increase in congestion and delays. FDOT decided to build an Interim Traffic Management System (ITMS) to provide the public with real-time information on current traffic conditions along I-95 as a way to mitigate the impacts of construction. The ITMS was connected with the highway safety service patrol (Road Rangers), the Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) program, the Palm Beach County county-wide Traffic Signal Control System, the I-95 Public Information Office (PIO), the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the Palm Beach County Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Team. The ITMS project implemented and managed portable field devices, including closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs), dynamic message signs (DMSs), and radar vehicle detection, all controlled through a centralized computer system, with connections to local agency partners. For most of the project, the ITMS was controlled from a fully equipped, but interim, Traffic Management Office (TMO). In 2009, the ITMS was transitioned to the permanent Palm Beach Transportation Management Center (TMC).

Lessons Learned

The evaluation of the Palm Beach County (PBC) Interim Traffic Management System (ITMS) project include: documenting the successful innovations deployed and proven in the project, documenting the institutional integration among the stakeholders, particularly in terms of both routine and emergency operations (mainly incident management), documenting the lessons learned, particularly the pitfalls that others should avoid in applying an Interim Traffic Management System solution, and to offer ideas for improving ITMS deployments in the future. Some of the lessons learned during the implementation and operation of the ITMS include the following:

  • Avoid failures and disruptions in operations by training operators to deal quickly and decisively with unexpected system failures. This training should include having a plan in place to deal with the unexpected.
  • Prepare an interim traffic management device backup plan for temporary power supply during commercial power outages. If portable generators are used to supply power make sure they are secured in place to avoid theft.
  • Anticipate location design needs for interim traffic management devices including stabilization pads on slopes, wind bracing, and rain shields.
  • Consider the climate where units are deployed, compared with where units are produced. (e.g., battery maintenance in hot climates may differ from maintenance in cooler climates.)
  • Provide for spare parts to be readily available for system maintenance.
  • Find inexpensive software and hardware solutions where possible (e.g., timers on controllers needing to be reset manually versus remotely).
  • Assess needs for solar power solutions (e.g., be aware of the exposure of solar panels to the sun's direct path).
  • Balance the need for displaying messages on portable devices with power availability.
  • Plan for component replacement for projects of long duration.
  • Initiate public outreach before the ITMS is operational and continue aggressively throughout the deployment to ensure the public understands the purpose of the systems.

The Palm Beach ITMS was highly successful in allowing FDOT to provide much needed traveler information during the critical reconstruction of I-95, without waiting several years for the completion of fixed signs and instruments. As a temporary project, initial expectations of the ITMS were not all that high however expectations were met and exceeded. The portable units clearly demonstrated their effectiveness and many lessons were learned through the project. The success of this ITMS system should be reviewed by those considering options for traffic management for long duration construction projects.