Preston Scott Kamada

Scholarship Status: Awarded NA
Scholarship Awarded: Transportation Vision Scholarship
University: University of California, Irvine
Date of Graduation: 2019


Each year, commuters in the city of Los Angeles spend on average over 100 hours stuck in traffic jams. According to a study by transportation analytics company INRIX, of the top 50 most traffic-ridden cities in America, nine are from the state of California. In fact, L.A. ranks #1 for the worst global traffic congestion, followed closely by New York and San Francisco at #3 and #4 respectively. What is the cause for all this congestion? With the push for economic and technological growth in these big cities, populations will continue to rise, as more individuals will look to migrate toward those opportunities. As a result, employment will increase as well, but with all of this growth and no expansion of our roadways and arterials, how can a city accommodate the movement of an expanding population? If we take a look at structures in the 1800s, before building vertically, cities and communities expanded horizontally. It was not until the turn of the century, when limits were reached and technology advanced, that the development of taller buildings became encouraged and more commonplace. In short, structure development was successful because it utilized the maximum horizontal and vertical space that was realistic. Transportation could follow a similar trend. Possible applications for a vertical transportation future could include the use of flying (levitating) cars, which will infinitesimally multiply our possible routes because of the opportunity to create pathways on top of each other and at every angle. Unfortunately, while there is similar strain by the limits that the structural industry faced, technology is not yet there to meet our vertical transportation demands. Until then, a more realistic system to mitigate the traffic problem that plagues cities around the world is the implementation of managed lanes. Managed lanes are the key to controlling the density of vehicles on California roadways. A managed lane is a type of highway lane that is operated in a management scheme to strategize maximum throughput of vehicles. The overloading of vehicles through a corridor, causing a bottleneck effect, causes traffic congestion. A great example is the use of corn kernels and a funnel. There are two scenarios. The first is taking a cup of corn kernels and dumping them all at once in the funnel. The kernels will plug the bottom and be let loose at a slow rate by shaking or tapping the side of the funnel. This is the same scene we see leading up to the entrance of a big city: multiple roads and thousands of cars leading to one destination. The second is taking the same cup of corn kernels and pouring them at a steady flow rate that optimizes the maximum allowance of the corridor at a maximum speed. This is essentially the function of a managed lane. In addition to the positives in mitigating congestion, managed lanes could provide more funding for the transportation industry. As the automobile industry moves toward alternative energy vehicles, in particular, electric, we must find other ways to earn revenue in order to fund transportation projects across California. Another vision pushes for environmental support. This past summer, I performed pre-construction work for the installation of asphalt strain gauges in a taxiway at the Honolulu International Airport. The job was to embed a number of these dynamic sensors under the runway in order to measure the axial loading that the pavement endures. Similar to embedding sensors under the pathway, Qualcomm has been developing a wireless electric vehicle charging system that provides electric charge to vehicles without any physical contact point. Coils that are embedded throughout the miles of roadway in managed lanes, and/or general-purpose lanes in California, that provide power to electric cars wirelessly, could drive interest away from gasoline-powered vehicles, thus benefiting our environment. The industry will be geared toward finding eco-friendly solutions to continually improve efficiency. I believe that the implementation of managed lanes and wireless electric vehicle charging systems in roadways will provide a traffic congestion and environmental solution for the future.


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