Orange County Branch Newsletter

December 2015

Transportation Technical Group

ITS Seminar


By: Sirous Alavi, Ph.D., P.E.

On Friday, November 13, 2015 the American Society of Civil Engineers, Orange County Transportation Technical Group (ASCE OC TTG) and ASCE OC Branch Continuing Education Committee hosted a half day seminar on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the City of Irvine.  The theme of the seminar was the past, present and future overview of ITS nationally and also regionally in the State of California. The seminar was very well received with five presenters covering various topics in ITS.

Mr. Jesse Glazer, ITS/Operations Engineer with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) discussed the “ITS-History & National Prospective.” He covered the evolution of ITS in the past 50 years and what he perceives to be the future of ITS in the next 50 years. In his presentation, Mr. Glazer defined ITS in brief as “technology in transportation.” His presentation contained many interesting slides related to the use of technology in transportation. Mr. Glazer indicated that the transportation technology is more than 100 years old. He provided many examples of ITS applications in transportation over the years. The historical overview included the use of traffic signals, freeway traffic management, arterial traffic management, traffic management centers, smart bus systems, travelers’ information, electronic tolling & HOT lanes, and the growing use of mobile devices. Mr. Glazer discussed the upcoming ITS technologies such as the self-driving vehicles. Mr. Glazer also mentioned the USDOT initiatives related to ITS, ITS project management and system engineering, and available ITS resources.    

Dr. Morteza Fahrtash, P.E., PMP, Caltrans TMC Manager, provided an update of the ITS Status in Caltrans District 12 in Orange County. Orange County is one of the most heavily trafficked counties in the State.  Dr. Fahrtash described ITS operational objectives which include improving safety and mobility, reducing congestion and managing demand, providing information to motorists, and sharing information with stakeholders. He also discussed challenges of meeting those objectives in his presentation including congestion, growth in demand, daily delay, and limited funding.  Dr. Fahrtash described various elements of the District 12 Transportation Management Center (TMC) from construction to present operation including TMC function, ramp metering system, advanced transportation management system (ATMS), TMC monthly activities, value of the TMC (i.e. in reducing motorist delays and improving incident response time), automated incident detection, and transportation system management and operations (TSMO).

Mr. Alex Estrella, SANDAG Senior Transportation Planner, and Mr. James Dreisbach-Towle, MBA, PMP, SANDAG Principal Technology Program Manager, made a presentation on “San Diego Region ITS Technologies and Applications.” They discussed the regional context, ITS history and background, I-15 Integrated Corridor Management (ICM), and their upcoming ITS activities. Transportation regional vision, vision for transportation system management/ITS, strategic assessment, strategic investment areas, traveler information, and 511 mobile applications were among the topics that were discussed. ICM was highlighted as the means for management of a corridor and the I-15 ICM project was overviewed. Various ICM strategies, ICM system (ICMS) components, ICMS assets, ICMS logic, and the ICMS process were also mentioned.     

Mr. Carlos Ortiz, PE, TE, PTOE, COO of ADVANTEC Consulting Engineers, gave a presentation on “Connecting California from Research to Reality.” Mr. Ortiz provided a synopsis of current transportation challenges related to safety, mobility, and the environment. To address these challenges, he stated that there is an ongoing paradigm shift in “cars” as we know them to improve safety, mobility, and the environment. The ongoing dramatic changes in car technology is based on the development/enhancement of connected and autonomous vehicles. Mr. Ortiz discussed the evolution over time of connected vehicle technology and detailed the five levels of vehicle automation as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He also described the concepts of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communications. Various applications of connected autonomous vehicles such as traffic incident management, weather management, transit, and parking were also highlighted.

Mr. Ali Zaghari, PE, Deputy District Director, Operations, Caltrans District 7, Los Angeles, made a presentation on “Caltrans District 7 Connected Corridors Pilot on I-210.” He described the Los Angeles County congestion challenges and existing infrastructure capabilities. According to Caltrans “Mile Marker” performance report, dated February 2014, six out of the ten most congested freeways in California and approximately 45% of all traffic delay statewide is experienced in LA County.  By 2035, the Southern California population is expected to increase by 23% and employment by 22%.  Mr. Zaghari provided a summary of Caltrans District 7 infrastructure and effective integrated management solutions. Mr. Zaghari described several successfully implemented operational strategies related to ITS, active transportation and demand management (ATDM) and other strategies. Mr. Zaghari provided a global perspective of ICM and presented the Caltrans Mission and Vision for its transportation system. An in depth discussion of transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O) was provided and the Caltrans connected corridors program was overviewed. Mr. Zaghari stated that interstate I-210, with supporting arterials and transit, was selected as the connected corridor pilot location. In his presentation, Mr. Zaghari provided an overview of the I-210 corridor area and discussed various elements of the I-210 connected corridor pilot project including project objectives, site selection factors, arterial network, stakeholder involvement, institutional challenges, governance challenges, and ways to overcome the challenges along with investment and funding opportunities, and lessons learned from this important project.