Intelligent Transportation Systems

INTRODUCTION

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can connect vehicles, travelers and highways, helping to improve the travel experience by providing information such as roadway congestion location, accidents, construction delays, optimum routing, weather conditions and traveler information. For transportation planning, the application of ITS projects can often provide a more cost-effective impact on congestion and safety when compared with roadway expansion.

According to the Federal Highway Administration Final Rule (23CFR 940), all federally-funded ITS projects are required to conform to a Regional ITS Architecture that meets requirements of the National ITS Architecture. ITS and transportation planning must be consistent. OKI’s Regional ITS Architecture is contained in OKI ITS Architecture Update and Strategic Plan (OKI ITS Plan). The Strategic Plan lists future ITS projects with estimates for implementation timing and project cost. The Strategic Plan is updated every four years, concurrent with the update of this Regional Transportation Plan. It guides OKI and its member agencies in planning, programming and implementing integrated multi-modal ITS over the next 10 years.

ITS Components

An ITS plan is comprised of one or more technology systems depending on a metropolitan area’s needs. The OKI ITS Plan documents each stakeholder’s current and future roles and responsibilities in the operation of the regional ITS systems across a range of transportation services. Seven major components are covered as part of the architecture.

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Traffic Management
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Traveler Information
Maintenance and Construction Management
Archived Data Management
Public Transportation
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Emergency Management
Commercial Vehicle Operations

EXISTING ITS ELEMENTS

The most extensive ITS system in the OKI region is OHGO. OHGO provides traveler information on up-to-the-minute traffic problems through a combination of changeable message signs strategically located throughout the system and the www.ohgo.com website. Information on the OHGO website is updated frequently by pavement sensors, monitoring stations, traffic cameras and through direct input by ODOT personnel. OHGO relays incident information to emergency responders. To further expedite incident response and removal, the program includes a freeway service patrol that provides gas, minor repairs and other assistance to disabled vehicles.

OHGO evolved from  ARTIMIS. ARTIMIS began with a 1988 OKI feasibility study and a shared regional interest in reducing congestion from interstate reconstruction, as well as its potential to optimize freeway system efficiency, improve safety and benefit air quality. ARTIMIS was one of the first ITS in the country to provide seamless freeway traffic management across state borders. In 2012, the downtown Cincinnati ARTIMIS traffic control center was closed and functions were relocated to ODOT’s control center in Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to OHGO, several other ITS technologies are already in place in the region:

  • Traffic control centers in the cities of Cincinnati, Fairfield, Springdale and Clermont County
  • The City of Cincinnati/Hamilton County Regional Operations Center coordinates special event monitoring and disaster response, and ramp metering on I-74 in Hamilton County.
  • Real-time transit information is available from SORTA through their website and mobile app.
  • Ongoing traffic counts, speed and travel time information is being collected by OKI, as well as commercial vendors.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ITS

With completion of the OKI ITS Strategic Plan, further study is needed to address such issues as specific infrastructure needs, phasing, deployment procedures and more refined cost estimates including operating and maintenance costs.

This 2040 Regional Transportation Plan recommends reserving $75 million for ITS projects. Any ITS project that conforms to the OKI ITS Architecture and Strategic Plan and meets fiscal and air quality constraint requirements of this 2040 Regional Transportation Plan may be eligible for federal funding. Several key ITS projects compiled from stakeholder involvement and workshops include:

  • Traveler information for Cincinnati parking facilities – variable message signs and smartphone notifications
  • Work zone safety improvements
  • I-75 ramp metering in Cincinnati
  • Bus signal priority along key transit corridors
  • Active Traffic Demand Management and Hard Shoulder Running projects
  • Transit vehicle and passenger information updates including mobile fare payments, electronic fare boxes and real-time passenger counts
As freeway traffic continues to increase, ITS infrastructure will become increasingly important for reducing congestion and maximizing the efficiency of the transportation system. Technology will continue to rapidly advance and alter the ITS tools available. It is projected that application of these technologies will provide the OKI region with even greater opportunities for more efficient transportation investments.