CDOT unveils $20M tech program to make roads safer, faster

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways October 29, 2015 16:46

CDOT unveils $20M tech program to make roads safer, faster

The Colorado Department of Transportation is committing $20 million in a bid to bring high tech to the state’s aging transportation network.

The project, dubbed RoadX, aims to team the public sector and private companies to deploy “comprehensive technology solutions” over the next 10 years can help make Colorado’s roads “crash-free, injury free, delay-free,” the agency announced this week.

“RoadX isn’t just an investment that we believe is smart with our taxpayer dollars,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT’s executive director.

“It is an investment in our time as commuters, our bottom lines as businesses and our lives as travellers on our roadways. It is time for our state to take the leading role in major achievement in travel and in Colorado’s economic future” Bhatt said.

The project was formally rolled out this week at CDOT’s sold-out Transportation Summit. The summit featured U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox.

“Our state’s economic vitality is directly tied to the capacity to move people, goods and information,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper in CDOT’s announcement.

“Yet, since 1908, from which our entire country’s transportation system is based on, the long-term planning and lengthy build-out of transportation systems has evolved into an environment and culture where innovation has declined. It’s time to change that,” Hickenlooper said.

The $20 million CDOT plans to use as seed money for the program will come from reallocated money already in the budget, said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. Some of the money may come from funds earmarked for projects that increase safety or reduce congestion, as well as existing operations and management budget, she said.

“Our goal is to make Colorado congestion free, crash free, and injury free — and one of the most technologically advanced states in the country,” Ford said. “We can’t guarantee that technology will meet all those goals, but we can guarantee that if we aren’t on the front edge of this, then we definitely won’t [meet those goals].”

The agency also is looking at how technology can be incorporated into existing environmental regulations when planning for new or expanded roads and highways, Ford said.

And another area CDOT is looking at involves the use of data to improve the transportation network, she said.

State highway agencies have an abundance of information — from real-time road data, to fatality statistics to information about “every curve, every road, and every bridge in the state,” Ford said.

Aggregating that data via an open-source platform could improve safety in the future, she said.

“Imagine a car that knows that a tight curve is coming up and you have to slow down now in order to make it,” Ford said.

RoadX will have an “InnoVisers Council” — co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder — to guide the integration of technology into Colorado’s transportation network, CDOT said.

The agency envisions RoadX concentrating technology on five areas: connection, transport, commuting, safety and integration.

Projects that cut the cost of transporting goods might include deploying technologies that support “truck platooning,” which calls for two or more freight trucks travelling in a group, with the trucks communicating with each other via technology and travelling extremely close to the truck in front of them.

CDOT also envisions using technology to “transform a rural highway into the safest corridor in the state” using technologies such as vehicles communicating with each other, smart infrastructure such as virtual guardrails and “smart” lane markings.

So-called “connected vehicles,” as well as vehicles that can communicate wireless with infrastructure could be used to reduce congesting along I-25 and I-70, according to CDOT.

More information about RoadX can be found at CDOT’s website here.

Story: Biz

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways October 29, 2015 16:46