Traffic data from the ground up

Case Studies
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In Bozeman, Mont., the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University was working on a study of traffic and road-weather information, called Transportation, Research, Applications and Instrumentation Laboratory (TRAIL), on a major thoroughfare in the city of Bozeman. It too required state-of-the-art technology to gather traffic and weather data.
In the end, both entities turned to a system manufactured by Nu-Metrics Inc., a member of Quixote Transportation Technologies Inc. Nu-Metrics’s Groundhog Permanent Count Stations provide accurate data necessary for effective traffic analysis, control and management through a network of sensors that measure vehicle counts, speeds and length as well as roadway surface temperature and roadway wetness.

Since February 2002, Bloomington has installed nine stations, two in the city and seven at other sites throughout Monroe County. The purpose of the count stations is to collect data on traffic, surface temperature, surface wetness and chemical index of the pavement. The city also is utilizing text-message alerts to notify personnel of freezing conditions on the road surface.

“In winter 2003, we tested the system and my cell phone was alerted with a text message when pavement conditions indicated ice,” Sheryl Lockridge, traffic engineering technician for Bloomington, said. “This year we implemented the feature for personnel in our city street department and county highway department. The alerts worked exactly as indicated by Nu-Metrics and we are building on the effectiveness of the alerts. The system and nine units have functioned very well with little upkeep.”

The Western Transportation Institute’s TRAIL project demonstrates and evaluates various data acquisition, control, information-delivery and management systems in a small urban and rural environment. The Groundhog Permanent Count Stations were an ideal solution for this portion of the TRAIL project.

The goal of this phase of the project was to establish a safer and a more efficient traveling environment for 19th Street in Bozeman. Increased traffic volumes have created concerns about safety, congestion and incidents in the area. Traffic, weather and road condition sensors were deployed on 19th Street to obtain real-time and summary data describing travel conditions.

“We have 21 Groundhogs deployed collecting road and weather information,” reports Suzanne Lassacher, research associate in information systems for the Western Transportation Institute. “The sensors are embedded in the center of the lane and collect information on vehicle speed, classification, volume counts and pavement weather.”

Both Bloomington and the Western Transportation Institute say the Groundhog Permanent Count Stations report very accurate traffic data and that Nu-Metrics has provided continuing technical support.

Increased traffic volume has always been a concern in large metropolitan areas, and it now also is becoming more of a concern for a community of any size experiencing rapid growth. The permanent count stations successfully deployed in Bloomington and Bozeman will allow these areas to create a safer traveling environment with reduced congestion and accidents.

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