TSMO Business Areas
Adverse weather conditions affect driver behavior and potentially result in crashes. How we detect and apprise motorists of these conditions so they can make informed decisions on their travel choices impacts how our transportation systems operate. From October to April, PennDOT's maintenance counties focus on winter weather operations. All aspects of scheduling, staffing, and resource allocation are supervised from the district level and often limit non-critical maintenance activities during winter months. PennDOT has deployed various Roadway Weather Information Systems (RWIS) to assist with winter-weather operations, and have currently deployed over 50 RWIS sensors throughout the state. Emergency transportation operations, aside from winter weather, may include other types of significant weather events such as flooding and tornadoes, which create hazardous roadway conditions and a need for coordinated efforts with other emergency response organizations. Future operational strategies
could include additional weather detection stations at critical locations and automated bridge de-icing systems.
ITS and Traffic Signals
ITS devices assist with monitoring traffic conditions and disseminating information to motorists so they can make informed travel decisions. Traffic signals are our principal means for controlling traffic flow along arterials with at-grade intersections. PennDOT has an ever-increasing number of device deployments, including 882 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, 519 dynamic message signs (DMS), 831 detectors, and a variety of other solutions such as reversible high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane control and ramp metering. There are currently over 14,000 traffic signals in Pennsylvania, primarily owned and maintained by local municipalities. Future opportunities for this business area include PennDOT's Green Light-Go initiative, which will allow operational control of traffic signals on key corridors by the department to manage vehicle throughput and improve safety and also complement freeway operations (including integrated corridor management).
PennDOT's Traffic Signal Portal is home to all traffic engineering and traffic signal information. It is also the location to find further grant information on the Green Light-Go Program and the Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) Program.
Work zones can be a significant cause of delay and congestion, especially if there are lane reductions. PennDOT plans and deploys roadside safety equipment, construction staging areas, and detours/alternate routes for short- and long-term construction. PennDOT partners with the Pennsylvania State Police to deploy troopers within work zones where queues are expected to extend beyond the limits of work, thereby increasing the potential for rear-end crashes. PennDOT also maintains an updated list of roadway closures in its Road Condition Reporting System (RCRS) in coordination with information provided by the district press offices. The department is coordinating with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to develop and implement Smart Work Zone technologies through the Every Day Counts Initiative
(EDC-3), which includes advance warning systems and temporary portable rumble strips. In addition, legislation allowing automated speed enforcement is being pursued.
Traffic incidents are unplanned events that can severely impact traffic flow. PennDOT manages the impact of unplanned incidents through the use of its
traffic management centers (TMCs) along with coordination with emergency responders and other agencies. To reduce incident impacts during morning and evening commute hours, freeway service patrols (FSP) are deployed during peak traffic hours Monday-Friday in the Allentown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh areas. In addition to PennDOT's initiatives, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and SPC currently host Incident Management Task Force meetings to bring stakeholders together and provide training several times a year. Possible improvements in this business area include expansion of the FSP to other roadways and regions, and PennDOT lead incident management teams throughout the state.
Special events are planned events that attract visitors that can impact traffic conditions on both a local and regional level. Special event planning takes a concerted effort by multiple agencies and stakeholders to ensure traffic is efficiently managed and impacts are minimized. Some events may be more localized and only require coordination among a few parties. Others are regional and require more extensive coordination, like the Papal visit to Philadelphia in 2015, which required more than five months of planning and preparation and involved over 20 agencies and stakeholders. PennDOT's role may vary depending on the type and magnitude of the event, but is always responsible for traffic management of the state's roadway system. Improvements in this area may include parking demand management, better use of transit, and dynamic routing.
Bottlenecks are areas of restricted traffic flow and congestion generally caused by a lane reduction or similar decrease in capacity. They have generally been addressed with capacity adding projects in the past. Even though a major focus of PennDOT's highway program has been focused on structurally deficient bridges and roadway maintenance, there are currently several large capacity adding projects under design, including Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway in District 3 and Potters Mills Gap in District 2. Possible TSMO concepts include those that are being designed for an upcoming project on the I-76 corridor near Philadelphia where variable speed limits, dynamic shoulder lanes, and other operations strategies will be deployed.
Traffic Management Centers
Traffic management centers oversee 24/7 operations of the freeway and major arterial systems through the use of ITS devices, freeway service patrols, communication with emergency responder agencies, and close coordination with districts and other agencies. With the opening of PennDOT's Statewide Transportation Management Center (STMC) in June 2016, PennDOT now has the staff and tools for statewide coverage and will be able to focus on the development of performance metrics and operational strategies to improve mobility and minimize the impacts of congestion. Regional Transportation Management Centers (RTMCs) operate in Bridgeville (District 11), Clearfield (District 2), Harrisburg (District 8), and King of Prussia (District 6). Improvements in this area may include better centralized control of all devices and applications as well as better integration of social media feeds.
Traveler information involves providing up-to-date, accurate data to travelers to assist with route and mode choice. PennDOT currently disseminates traveler information through roadside messaging (DMS), PA 511 (website, mobile application, and phone service), Highway Advisory Radio (HAR), incident information and video sharing with the media, and partnerships with companies like Waze. Better integration of multimodal data and partnerships with other social media platforms can result in better quality data for the customer.
PennDOT is assisting in policy development and planning for infrastructure to facilitate vehicle to infrastructure (V2I), vehicle to vehicle (V2V), and autonomous vehicle travel on PennDOT facilities. They are an active participant in the Connected Vehicle Pooled Study to promote the large-scale deployment of Connected Transportation Systems through modeling, development, engineering, and planned activities. The department has partnered with FHWA and Carnegie Mellon University to develop connected and autonomous test beds at several locations throughout the state, and is currently developing a Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Strategic Plan.