2014 Best of ITS Award Winners

2014 Best of ITS Award Winners

Celebrate the Best of ITS People and Solutions

Project of Significance Award-

A project, study, or program undertaken in the previous twelve (12) months with an impact that is quantifiable and directly related to a specific activity/action that reduces congestion, improves safety and security, and enhances mobility in Georgia.

Winner: – I-75 South Express Lanes Project – Georgia Department of Transportation and State Road and Tollway Authority. Contractor: C W Matthews, Designer: ARCADIS.

ITS Georgia President Tom Sever (second from right) presents the 2014 Project of Significance Award to Bill Gunter, Shubhendu Mohanty, Matt Glasser, Mark Demidovich, Xuewen Le.
ITS Georgia President Tom Sever (second from right) presents the 2014 Project of Significance Award to Bill Gunter, Shubhendu Mohanty, Matt Glasser, Mark Demidovich, Xuewen Le.

I-75 Express Lane Project will add optional reversible tolled lanes for 12 miles along I-75 south of Atlanta, in Henry and Clayton Counties from SR 155 to SR 138. Access to the reversible lanes system will be facilitated by an automated gate system. Traffic in both express lanes and general purpose lanes will be monitored by expanded Georgia Department of Transportation’s NaviGator ITS System. The lanes will be managed by a variable priced tolling system, and drivers will use a Peach Pass to access the lanes.

The Benefit: The I-75 Express lanes will provide motorists in the corridor with expanded choice and a valuable option for a reliable trip regardless of traffic conditions in the general purpose lanes.  The I-75 Express lanes are anticipated to provide an average of 10 minutes in travel time savings for users.

The Significance: This project is the first such project implemented under the State of Georgia’s policy that any new capacity on Metro Atlanta’s freeway system will be managed. The full electronic tolling feature of the project provides a means to maintain optimal usage and reliable travel time and therefore better mobility and accessibility in the corridor. This express lane system is also the first reversible lanes system in Georgia that utilizes automated gates and associated changeable message signs, toll rate signs and traffic signals to manage the operations.

Innovation: Outside the Box Award –

Creative and unique approach or solution by an individual or group to an ITS challenge, or to an issue using ITS as a solution during the previous twelve (12) months.

Winner: Variable Speed Limits on I-285 — Georgia Department of Transportation. Contractor: Brooks-Berry-Haynie, Designer: ATKINS, Software: Delcan, Maintenance Support: Serco.

Ashlyn Morgan, Whitney Nottage, Bill Gunter and Mark Demidovich receive the 2014 Innovation award from ITS Georgia President Tom Sever (second from right).
Ashlyn Morgan, Whitney Nottage, Bill Gunter and Mark Demidovich receive the 2014 Innovation award from ITS Georgia President Tom Sever (second from right).

The Georgia DOT continues to look for innovative technologies to deal with the ever-increasing traffic on metro Atlanta freeways.  A concept proposed by Commissioner Keith Golden has allowed for an increased speed limit on I-285 south of I-20 and implementation of a Variable Speed Limit (VSL) system on I-285 north of I-20.  During times of lighter traffic, this VSL system will allow drivers on this segment of I-285 to enjoy the same 65 mph speed limit that drivers south of I-20 have.  However, during times of increasing congestion, the VSL system will display reduced speed limits in 10-mph increments (to a minimum of 35 mph) to slow traffic as it enters a congested area.

This VSL system was deployed as a design-build project; the design-build team was led by Brooks-Berry-Haynie with Atkins as the designer.  It features a combination of wireline and wireless communications to the 176 VSL’s, most of which are solar powered.  The VSL are controlled by GDOT’s Navigator II system from the TMC in Grant Park.

Larry R. Dreihaup Award –

The ITS Georgia Larry R. Dreihaup Award recognizes an individual or an organization who has provided leadership, professionalism, and dedication in promoting ITS in the State of Georgia during the previous 12 months.

Winner: Grant Waldrop, P.E., Georgia Department of Transportation.

Grant Waldrop - 2014 Larry R. Dreihaup Award
Grant Waldrop – 2014 Larry R. Dreihaup Award

Grant has served in many roles at ITS Georgia and most recently as board member. He is dedicated individual that works tirelessly on any initiative that advances ITS and Operations and Maintenance. He led the charge on behalf of ITS Georgia in organizing a very successful and visible ITS 3C Conference along with Gulf Regional ITS and ITS Florida. His efforts at GDOT have garnered attention and respect for Traffic Signal Operation and Maintenance projects by GDOT management and decision makers regionally. Through these efforts he has propelled the Department’s disjointed signal programs into an award winning nationally recognized regional arterial management program. Throughout his career, Grant has strived to improve how ITS is done in Georgia be it through his mark on the specifications or management of the largest region-wide arterial management program in the southeast. Grant serves as mentor to his Colleagues and ITS Georgia membership and has acted as champion for ITS and ICM during a time of transition at the State leading ITS agency.

Recently, Grant agreed to represent ITS Georgia in securing the Complete Street Symposium, which will be last of the series. He is a professional in every aspect and a great ambassador of ITS GA.

Outstanding Volunteer Award –

Open to all membership, including Board members and Committee Chairs, who have gone above and beyond to support ITS Georgia during the previous twelve (12) months.

Winner: David A. Smith, P.E., Sunbelt Traffic, LLC

David Smith - 2014 Volunteer
David Smith – 2014 Volunteer

While serving as a Board Member, David has assumed several leadership and volunteer roles within ITS Georgia. He helped organize the out of town technical workshop in Columbia County in May 2013, which drew close to 50 participants. He arranged for some of our monthly meeting speakers in 2013, including Greg Najjar, Sprint Networks (July 2013) and Phil Spicer, Norfolk Southern (October 2013).

When the Board was looking for a new meeting facility for 2014, David researched various facilities and provided the Board several options. He made full arrangements for us to meet at Petite Auberge Restaurant in February 2014.

David is constantly volunteering his time to assist with chapter activities and initiatives, including working with Xuewen Le this year as the Board Manager for the Activities Committee. He has gone beyond the call of duty to be worthy of the 2014 Outstanding Volunteer Award.

2014 Shackelford Scholarship

The ITS Georgia Chapter supports student involvement in the engineering profession and hopes to encourage future Georgia ITS Engineers through the Wayne Shackelford Engineering Scholarship Program.

Our 2014 winner of the sixth annual ITS Georgia Wayne Shackelford Engineering Scholarship is Simon Berrebi, a doctoral candidate at Georgia Tech who developed a method that uses real-time information to control buses on a high-frequency route – a technology he hopes to commercialize upon graduation.

Shackelford Scholarship winner Simon Berrebi
Shackelford Scholarship winner Simon Berrebi

The question answered by this year’s applicants was: What are the top benefits and challenges of implementing autonomous vehicles in metro Atlanta?

Below is the winning abstract.

Recent advancements in sensing and tracking technologies allow shifting the control of vehicles from the driver to the vehicle itself. The paradigm of autonomous vehicle is an old dream: it was presented as the vision for the 1950’s at the New York 1939 World fair. Later, cars came equipped with air bags that automatically detected crashes, and now with automatic-braking systems that avoid collisions. Several companies have started working on prototypes that could operate without a human in the car, and have completed successful tests on the highway network.

There is a wide consensus among transportation experts that vehicles in the future will carry out an increasing number of driving tasks. However, it is still unclear what level of autonomation they will achieve in the next ten to thirty years. As technology continually improves, several questions regarding the impact of autonomous vehicles on the transportation eco-system must be addressed. This paper presents some of the main benefits and challenges of implementing autonomous vehicles in Metro Atlanta, GA. The transportation network is already facing serious challenges in congestion mitigation, safety, infrastructure funding etc. Autonomous vehicles will relieve some of these issues and aggravate others, while carrying challenges of their own.

Many of the transportation challenges facing the metro Atlanta transportation system are caused by human behavior and characteristics. Human drivers take longer than computers to react to changing conditions and to unexpected events so they drive slower and more dangerously, while consuming more fuel and space. In addition, many people do not have access to personal mobility because of physical disabilities, visual impairment, or age, and this trend will likely increase with the raising life expectancy.

By contrast to human drivers, autonomous vehicles can be programmed to react effectively to changes in their surrounding conditions. Recent prototypes of autonomous vehicles were tested on the highway with a visually impaired passenger, and were found to perform better than human drivers. One of the main benefits of implementing autonomous vehicles in Metro Atlanta is that individual vehicles will drive more safely and more efficiently. In addition, autonomous vehicles will provide access to personal mobility for people who currently cannot drive.

The road network is made for the design driver. The design driver is one of the worst drivers on the road, partly because he or she uses intuition rather than reason to make decisions. Autonomous vehicles can be excellent drivers, because they are programmed to react to their environment, but lack the intuition to adjust their decision-making when confronted to an unexpected situation.

Unexpected situations are unavoidable on a transportation network where millions of people and vehicles interact on a daily basis with each other and with surrounding infrastructure. The interaction between human drivers and autonomous vehicles can be dangerous because one can misapprehend the behavior of the other. Accidents may occur, for example, when a human suddenly decides to take control of his or her vehicle, or when a human and an autonomous car compete for right of way at an intersection with a broken traffic signal. To prevent these situations, the rules of driving for humans would have to change, and there should be very specific standards to make autonomous driving as predictable as possible.

As the need for human involvement in the task of driving will diminish, the cost and the overall burden of transportation will decrease. For-hire rides will become cheaper as the salary of the human driver will be excluded from the price. Autonomous cars will be able to park themselves or to become for-hire vehicles until their owners hail them back. Commuters will be able to multi-task in their car on their way to work. As inexpensive, reliable and fast transportation solutions that do not require vehicle ownership will arise, the demand for personally owned vehicles will diminish, but the demand for transportation will increase.

As the cost of transportation will decrease, people will most likely alter their travel behavior by making more trips, traveling farther, and shifting modes to the automobile. This change in travel patterns will put a strain on the transportation network, which will become more congested and more damaged by the increased demand in vehicular transportation. In addition, it will likely spur changes in land use patterns as commuters will be willing to live farther away from their work.

The implementation of autonomous vehicles in Atlanta will a have deep impact on traffic operations and travel patterns. The autonomous vehicles will be designed to drive more safely and efficiently than human driver, and they will give personal mobility access to people who cannot drive. There remains however technological and legal challenges whereas to the interaction of autonomous vehicles with humans drivers and the built environment. The implementation of autonomous vehicles will also diminish the cost of transportation in metro Atlanta, and reduce the need for personally owned vehicle, but it will also increase the demand for transportation and put a strain on the road network.

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