Deysi Alvarado

Scholarship Status: Awarded 1st Place
Scholarship Awarded: Best Transportation Vision Scholarship
University: UC Irvine
Date of Graduation: June 2016


California traffic is often referred as one of the worst. Congestion on freeways during peak hours is insane for commuters and that is where transportation engineers come in. A transportation engineer must seek innovative ways to develop the transportation of people and goods through sustainable strategies. However, this is easier said than done. There are two ways I envision the future. One is the continuation of single rider auto trip growth throughout the state that will further worsen the traffic congestion and harm the environment. The alternative vision I have is the decrease of traffic and increase of safety through the implementation of various programs that improve the standard of living. The deterioration of infrastructure has to be solved before any other measures can be taken to improve the standard of living in California. The State of California transportation infrastructure grade in 2012 was a C- due to its existing conditions and inadequate funding (American Society of Civil Engineers). Orange County is viewed as one of the most sought places to live in however, even their grade for infrastructure was C (Emrani). Infrastructure maintenance is a crucial component to improving the grades thus, the ongoing need for funding has to be addressed. “There is a need for $10 billion per year more to be spent for ongoing maintenance of existing facilities and an investment of $36.5 billion in order to raise transportation to a B” (American Society of Civil Engineers). Once there is a system to ensure that maintenance of existing transportation infrastructures are being meet then more programs can be executed to improve California. Traffic signal optimization should be adopted statewide. During the Fuel Efficient Traffic Signal Management Program, between 1983 and 1993, the timing signal optimization and coordination projects were carried out with success in the increased amount of green-light time. Thus, allowing the movement of traffic to flow smoother and quickly. First, traffic patterns must be recorded by real time data to ensure that the best timing scenarios can be developed. Part of the Seattle signal optimization program was to install the newest control boxes that are all interconnected to permit coordination communication between intersections which allow up to 16 cycle options (Traffic Signal Optimization Program). By having various traffic patterns throughout the day having 16 different cycles permits helps adjust the system to continue to maximize its green-light time. “The level of service improved a significant percentage, ranging from 27 to 55 percent, for two-phase intersections with exclusion of turning lanes, and/or unbalanced critical volumes” therefore, this program alone will not have a big enough impact to reduce traffic congestion (Skabardonis). “Engineers shall recognize that the lives, safety, health, and welfare of the general public are dependent upon engineering judgments, decisions and practices incorporated into structures, machines, products, processes and devices” (ASCE Code of Ethics). Thus, as an engineering student I imagine a major improvement in safety through developing networking technologies. Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication has become one of the ten breakthrough technologies for 2015 (Knight). According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration researchers, it can be concluded that this technological advancement will prevent more than half a million accidents and more than a thousand fatalities nationwide. V2V is to be installed in every vehicle in order to ensure that each car can “broadcast their position, speed, steering-wheel position, brake status, and other data to another car within few hundred meters” and so, being able to alert the driver of any impending collision (Knight). With less collision on the road, cars will be flow at a faster pace and decrease the amount of traffic therefore, increasing the standard of living. The standard of living will significantly be improved by these programs. Infrastructure grades shall rise by augmenting funding, traffic signal optimization will decline traffic, and safety will be increase by V2V technology. Not only will this change the the standard of living but will revolutionize the world we live in today. How does this not sound like the future? Work Cited Emrani, Yazdan. "Orange County Infrastructure Improving, Though Not Acceptable." 2005 Orange County Infrastructure Report Card. University of California, Irvine, 2005. Web. Knight, Will. "Car-to-Car Communication." MIT Technology Review. 2015. Web. Skabardonis, Alexander. "Optimizing Signal Timing Plans, Coordinating Traffic Signal Control, and Implementing Adaptive Signal Control in California Reduced Travel Time by 7.4 to 11.4 Percent, Decreased Delay by 16.5 to 24.9 Percent, and Reduced Stops by 17 to 27 Percent." U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology. U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), 7 Jan. 2001. Web. "Traffic Signal Optimization Program." Department of Transportation. City of Seattle, 2015. Web.

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