In 2001, the U.S. Congress earmarked funds for projects that were designed to support improvements in transportation efficiency, promote safety, increase traffic flow, reduce emissions, improve traveler information, enhance alternative transportation modes, promote tourism and build on existing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) I-70 West Integration project, also referred to as "Trip-70", was one of the projects selected.
The purpose of this project was to address Colorado ITS infrastructure deficiencies along I-170 west of Denver. The funds allowed CDOT to augment previous ITS work and undertake critically needed integration activities and device deployment. In 2006, CDOT released a local evaluation of the project. The report concluded that the "Trip-70" project successfully met the projects goals and objectives of enhancing CDOT's capabilities to collect, compile and disseminate traveler information statewide. Such improvements have positively impacted CDOT's productivity and efficiency by enabling CDOT to generate and share more accurate and timely information with Colorado Transportation Management Center (CTMC) and with the public via Co-Trip, CDOT's road, weather and incident information website.
Through the I-70 West Integration project, as well as experiences from previous ITS projects, CDOT has learned the importance of establishing multi-agency partnerships with agencies that share similar regional ITS needs and goals. Working as a team – rather than as individual agencies – enhances the quality and effectiveness of ITS projects. During the I-70 West Integration project CDOT worked with a number of partner agencies including Colorado State Patrol, Denver Police Department, Denver Regional Council of Governments and the University of Colorado at Denver.
CDOT's experience developing partnerships provide a number of suggestions for enhancing the delivery of ITS projects:
- Coordinate ITS projects with local partners in order to leverage funds. An initial task within the Colorado DOT's I-70 West Integration project was to study the possibilities, likelihoods and logistics of setting up a Center-to-Center (C2C) interface between the Colorado Transportation Management Center (CTMC) and the Denver International Airport (DIA). However, CDOT eventually learned that the City & County of Denver had already conducted such a study and had developed a deployment plan. Instead of repeating a similar study, the task order funds were instead devoted to supporting the City’s effort by installing communications end hardware to establish the initial link between the CTMC and the Denver (City) Traffic Operations.
- Maintain recurring communications with partners. Establishing ongoing communications with partners – even those that may not be actively involved during the current phase of a project – helps maintain an atmosphere of cooperation and agreement. Such working relationships facilitate successful day-to-day operations as well as help form a foundation from which to develop future ITS initiatives.
This lesson suggests that the practice of establishing multi-agency partnerships and involving affected parties in the design and deployment of ITS projects leads to the maximization of project funds and enhances project outcomes. Such inter-agency partnerships have been an invaluable resource to Colorado’s ITS program by not only facilitating successful day-to-day operations of current projects, but also generating support for future ITS initiatives. Thus, when an agency is undertaking a regional ITS project, special attention and emphasis should be placed on building a strong stakeholder coalition.
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