AASHTO Journal, 16 September 2016
The Wyoming Department of Transportation has completed a development plan for a federally supported pilot program that could soon have hundreds of vehicles communicating electronically with each other and roadside devices about travel conditions on the Interstate 80 corridor.
WYDOT said the technology will allow equipped commercial trucks and WYDOT’s own fleets to “talk” to each other and to the roadside infrastructure, effectively giving drivers “360-degree awareness of hazards and situations, including some they cannot see.”
Wyoming’s pilot proposal was one of three selected for funding by the USDOT in September 2015, along with projects in New York City and Tampa, Fla.
The first phase was to complete development of the concept and detailed plan for how it would work, which WYDOT did last month. “Now, the three sites will embark on a 20-month phase of activity to design, build and test the nation’s most complex and extensive deployment of integrated wireless in-vehicle, mobile device and roadside technologies,” a USDOT notice said.
WYDOT will move toward deployment of what it expects to be 75 roadside devices and equipping 400 of its vehicles with the in-cab systems, while some private trucking fleet partners equip their trucks with the technology.
It said the USDOT is providing about $4.4 million for the design and deployment phase of the project, and that the combined cost of all project phases is projected to be about $5.7 million.
WYDOT said its I-80 corridor is a major route for east-west freight movement in the northwest part of the country, with often challenging weather conditions. And WYDOT said that in the last year alone that route has seen more than 1,400 crashes with 13 fatalities and more than 250 crashes involving injuries.
Once the connected vehicle pilot is operational, drivers of trucks approaching slowed or stopped traffic can receive messages in their vehicles to give them more reaction time and choices. Or if equipped vehicles pass roadside devices, drivers can receive messages alerting them to hazardous road conditions, crashes ahead, construction zone information, parking recommendations or other travel information.
Likewise, if the equipped vehicle is stranded, it can transmit an emergency notification to the appropriate center for assistance. In addition, the system will provide managers of trucking fleets with new and more accurate information to share with their truckers on I-80, the agency said.
“WYDOT’s connected vehicle project presents a unique opportunity,” said Gregg Fredrick, the agency’s chief engineer. “Our project team, along with the private fleet partners and a multidisciplinary research team will collaborate on developing leading-edge safety and mobility applications and prove the concept through real-world testing along the I-80 corridor. This work will lay the foundation for much larger and exciting opportunities to enhance the safety and mobility on other rural roadways in Wyoming and throughout the United States.”
WYDOT said it has gained support for the project from trucking industry leaders and safety advocates such as the Wyoming Trucking Association and the Governor’s Transportation Safety Coalition, and support from several private fleet partners interested in having their own trucks participate.