In an article published earlier this year, ITS International described the work zone ITS system TxDOT and TTI installed on I-35. We touched on this in our post on February 18th. But in that post we focused the fact that TxDOT has over 100 work zone ITS deployments in the last year and how that will change the way we all look at work zone ITS going forward.
This story looks at a different aspect of the project. The ITS International article is titled, “Asking Drivers What Information They Need: Radical But Effective”. TTI surveyed nearly 900 motorists who drive I-35 on a regular basis. The survey found that drivers wanted the following, with the most important listed first:
1. Expected delays between major points along I-35
2. Current travel times between major points along I-35
3. Current locations of incidents
4. Locations and times of freeway lane closures
5. Projected travel times between major points along I-35
6. Current speeds on each segment of I-35
7. Detour routes/maps
8. Snapshots of freeway conditions at selected points along I-35
This list can probably be used on most projects. It certainly can be used for projects along the primary routes between major cities. I-35 connects the Dallas /Ft. Worth area in the north with Austin and San Antonio in the south. It carries 100,000 vehicles per day with nearly a third being trucks.
The website known as My35 can be viewed at http://i35-maps.tti.tamu.edu/ . It does a wonderful job of meeting the needs expressed in the survey. The vast majority (67%) of vehicles are through traffic. Yet, notice how low on the list you find detour maps. Detour recommendations are still important to drivers, but not nearly as important as incident and delay information. Even in this location, most drivers know how to get around an incident if they learn about it in advance.
One of the features TTI built into the website is a trip forecasting tool. It uses historical data, planned lane closure schedules, weather, and more to forecast travel times based on the date and time you plan to travel. This proactive tool should help to meter traffic to at least some degree further reducing the overall levels of congestion.
It would be nice to see a report of the web traffic they get. Clearly drivers wanted this website. And apparently most of the survey respondents check the website before they begin their trips. But it would be nice to know how many use the site and, more important, how many have changed their plans after learning of a delay. We will certainly look at the results when they become available. Stay tuned!