STEP-Aligned HAWK Signal Installed in Bergen County

Every Day Counts (EDC) is an initiative developed by the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Center for Accelerating Innovation to improve safety along our roadways. Every two years, EDC identifies a number of highway safety innovations that are then supported for rapid deployment. A set of innovations targeted at pedestrian safety was identified within the 2019–2020 EDC cycle. Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) provides a set of pedestrian improvements ranging from small scale signage installation to fully revamped roadway layout through road diets. STEP-aligned projects have been successfully deployed in locations across New Jersey, including a recent pedestrian improvement project along Washington Avenue in the Borough of Carlstadt in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Washington Avenue is a four-lane, bidirectional road with a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. The corridor hosts a number of industrial businesses and therefore witnesses a great deal of truck traffic. Many employees working at these sites arrive by bus and dash across the four lane roadway to avoid walking 700 feet to the nearest lighted intersection at Veterans Boulevard.

In early 2013, a pedestrian fatality occurred along the corridor. According to Christine Mittman, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, concerned county officials submitted an application to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) through the Local Safety Program which utilizes Highway Safety Improvement Program funds. In order to develop comprehensive and effective solutions for the corridor, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and NJTPA recommended a road safety audit for a 1.6-mile section of Washington Avenue from Moonachie Avenue to Road A, just north of the Paterson Plank Road.

Figure 1. At this location along Washington Avenue, pedestrians were forced to walk in the travel lane (photo credit: Christine Mittman, NJTPA).

Figure 1. At this location along Washington Avenue, pedestrians were forced to walk in the travel lane (photo credit: Christine Mittman, NJTPA).

A road safety audit is a tool promoted by FHWA to identify safety issues for all users along a designated area of roadway. An independent multidisciplinary team walks the corridor observing and taking notes related to safety concerns, user conflicts, and roadway performance issues. Often the auditors use a standardized form to take notes about each section of the corridor being studied. Some issues that may arise include missing street lights, uneven sidewalks, areas where turning conflicts are common, and high volumes of pedestrians crossing the roadway outside of crosswalks. Additional guidance from FHWA can be found here.

During the Washington Avenue road safety audit, it became obvious that the pedestrian infrastructure along the corridor was insufficient. Paths were worn into the grass along either side of the roadway where sidewalks were missing. Workers crossed the road all along the corridor as trucks flew by. In some areas of the corridor, pedestrians were forced to walk within the vehicular travel lane as the pedestrian right of way was blocked and there was no shoulder along Washington Avenue (see Figure 1). The situation was clearly dangerous.

Once the recommendations were made through the road audit report, the project was advanced through the Local Safety program which included funding for both design and construction. A number of recommendations from the report made it into the final designs, including several pedestrian safety improvements at Barrell Avenue. These recommendations included completing the sidewalk network, relocating the bus stops for safer pedestrian crossings, and extending the Jersey barrier median with fencing along the top. The most innovative part of the design was the installation of a high-intensity activated crosswalk beacon (HAWK) signal, the first of its kind in Bergen County.

A HAWK signal, or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, is a traffic control signal that assists pedestrians in locations where a traffic intersection is not signalized.  When pedestrians are not present, the HAWK signal is unlit. But, as its name implies, when the HAWK is activated by the push of a button it proceeds through a light sequence that stops traffic while the pedestrian safely crosses the roadway with a countdown. A video of the HAWK signal control process can be found here.

A HAWK signal was installed just north of the intersection of Barrell Avenue and Washington Avenue for a number of reasons (see Figure 2). The first consideration was the high volume of pedestrian traffic coupled with a lack of traffic control at the T-intersection. Secondly, the area is situated about midway between the two nearest signal controlled intersections with pedestrian crosswalks.  Additionally, the overhead nature of the HAWK plays a much stronger role in capturing drivers’ attention as compared to placing rectangular rapid flashing beacons on either side of the roadway. Bus stops were relocated on either side of Washington Avenue near the HAWK signal to ensure the stops are safely accessible to patrons from both sides of the roadway.

Figure 2. HAWK signal located north of the intersection of Barrell Avenue and Washington Avenue.

Figure 2. HAWK signal located north of the intersection of Barrell Avenue and Washington Avenue.

According to Nancy Dargis from the Bergen County Division of Planning and Engineering, local officials were concerned that drivers would not understand how to respond to the new signal. However, since the project’s completion in late 2018, driver compliance rates have been high according to the Carlstadt Police Department. A post-implementation crash data analysis will be performed once three years of data is available, at which time more details will be available regarding the HAWK signal’s effectiveness on Washington Avenue.

Additional research related to the general effectiveness of HAWK signals is currently being undertaken by an NJDOT-funded study out of Rutgers University’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center and Rowan University. The study seeks to measure both the public’s understanding of the HAWK signal and its effectiveness in increasing driver yielding at pedestrian crossings.  The study will be completed this year.

The Washington Avenue HAWK signal was part of a $4.2 million project improving the safety of a 1.6-mile corridor of Washington Avenue. The project costs included sidewalk installations, drainage, new and upgraded signals, ADA compliance improvements throughout the corridor, guardrail upgrades, and an extended Jersey barrier median with six feet of fencing along the top.

Officials learned during implementation that the fencing along the median barrier would create sight line issues for drivers approaching the crosswalk when pedestrians were in the crosswalk on the opposite side of the road. After some research, they determined the safest course of action would be to take down the fencing for the 100 feet approaching the crosswalk in both directions. Additionally, officials pointed out the importance of installing the HAWK signal at an appropriate location. Specifically, the HAWK signal should not be placed at an intersection in place of a full traffic signal. The Washington Avenue HAWK signal is installed near, but not at, the Barrell Avenue intersection which is a T-intersection with a minimally trafficked side street.

The Washington Avenue HAWK signal was the first HAWK signal installed in Bergen County, and so far it has been a success. The signal has been seamlessly incorporated into the traffic movements in the area and local officials are happy with the results.  Several more HAWK signals are in the works in locations throughout the NJTPA region as officials work to implement safety improvements aligned with the EDC STEP initiatives.

 

RESOURCES

Every Day Counts Initiative: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/about-edc.cfm

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP): https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_5/step2.cfm

FHWA Road Safety Audit information and resources: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/

NJDOT videos describing FHWA’s Pedestrian Safety Countermeasures: https://www.njdottechtransfer.net/2019/09/27/njdot-safety-countermeasures-videos/

FHWA HAWK information and statistics: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/ped_hybrid_beacon/


This article is cross-posted on the NJ Bike & Pedestrian Resource Center blog.

 

Dredging, Dredged Material Management, and the New Jersey Marine Transportation System

Join the NJDOT Bureau of Research on Tuesday, May 12th for a Lunchtime Tech Talk! event on Dredging, Dredged Material Management, and the New Jersey Marine Transportation System.

This event will feature W. Scott Douglas, Dredging Program Manager, Office of Maritime Resources, NJ Department of Transportation.

The NJDOT Office of Maritime Resources (OMR) is the lead for maintaining some 200 nautical miles of engineered waterways that provide safe navigation pathways to and from the State’s shore-based infrastructure, and provides dredged material management services for another 150 nautical miles of Federal waterway. These waterways are part of the NJ Marine Transportation System that supports the $50 billion industry comprising international and domestic freight, commercial fishing, recreational boating, travel and tourism, marine trades and ferries. Scott Douglas will discuss OMR’s responsibilities for planning, design, procurement and construction services, and coordinating the State’s waterway emergency response. Maintenance of NJ’s waterways involves specialized skills in underwater surveying, environmental sampling, monitoring and planning, permitting, maritime engineering and design. Mr. Douglas will focus on how OMR balances all of these needs through a team of subject matter experts, new trainees and outside consulting engineers. He will highlight several case studies of recent construction dredging projects

NJ PE and AICP credits are available. The event is free, but please RSVP ahead of time to reserve a seat to attend the event.

Dredging, Dredged Material Management, and the New Jersey Marine Transportation System
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Time: 12:00 – 1:15 PM
Location:  NJDOT E&O Building
Training Room A
1035 Parkway Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

A UAS flown during the TRB visit to New Jersey DOT captured an aerial image of the Wittpenn Bridge.

Collaboration Demonstration: New Jersey Hosts State Partnership Visit

By Stefanie Potapa, Amanda Gendek, and Glenn Stott

Above: A UAS flown during the TRB visit to New Jersey DOT captured an aerial image of the Wittpenn Bridge.

Each year, representatives from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) visit with state departments of transportation (DOTs) to strengthen the partnership between TRB and state DOTs, identify current issues, collect and generate information, and disseminate that information throughout the transportation community.

In late February, Christine L. Gerencher and Andrew C. Lemer of TRB traveled through inclement weather from Washington, D.C., to New Jersey to visit with staff from various New Jersey DOT units. They were met by hosts Mike Russo, Assistant DOT Commissioner, and Amanda Gendek, Manager, Bureau of Research (BOR), as well as more than 40 staff members.

Knowledge-Sharing Opportunity
The annual TRB state visit allowed New Jersey DOT and TRB staff to share knowledge and information on initiatives, issues, and research directions.

The annual TRB state visit allowed New Jersey DOT and TRB staff to share knowledge and information on initiatives, issues, and research directions. Photo courtesy Stefanie Potapa

The annual TRB field visit is an important part of BOR’s program because it provides a forum for New Jersey DOT staff to share such information as research initiatives, new technologies, best practices, lessons learned, or specific problems they are currently facing. The TRB representatives then can transmit that information back to TRB so that other states, industry members, or educational institutions can benefit from it or use it to help solve the identified problem. The TRB visitors also highlight the Board’s range of services to the DOT and help identify potential candidates from New Jersey DOT staff for TRB committees.

Gerencher is a senior program officer at TRB, managing nine committees within the Aviation group and eight committees within the Environmental and Energy Section as well as chairing the editorial board of TR News. Lemer is a senior program officer in TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), managing a diverse portfolio of NCHRP-sponsored research projects with a focus on transportation asset management, system performance measurement and management, regional development, and agency information and knowledge management.

Kimbrali Davis and Stefanie Potapa of BOR worked diligently to produce the two-day event, collaborating with members of the following New Jersey DOT units and subject areas: Environmental Resources, Capital Investment and Development, Aeronautics, the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Program, Local Aid and Economic Development, and Asset Management. The first day of the field visit allowed Gerencher and Lemer to hear presentations from each invited New Jersey DOT unit, followed by a roundtable discussion. These discussions covered challenges, accomplishments, research needs, and New Jersey DOT participation in various TRB committees and subcommittees.

Field Observations
When using a UAS for inspection, the resident engineer closely follows protocol to operate the camera controls. Photo courtesy Stefanie Potapa

When using a UAS for inspection, the resident engineer closely follows protocol to operate the camera controls. Photo courtesy Stefanie Potapa

The next day, Shukri Abuhuzeima, Executive Regional Manager, Capital Program Management, presented an overview of the Route 7 Wittpenn Bridge construction project, complete with project-related statistics and background. Glenn Stott, UAS Coordinator, then spoke about the agency’s UAS program and briefed the participants on what to expect when they would arrive at the construction site later that morning.

The group then traveled to the construction site, where all individuals were briefed on safety. Stott, UAS pilot Koree Dusenbury, and visual observer Ashley Davis began a UAS flight demonstration to highlight the capabilities of these vehicles in construction project management and bridge inspection applications. For example, using a drone to inspect projects like the Wittpenn Bridge allows inspection personnel to remain safely on the ground rather than being suspended high over a busy waterway. The drone also can move quickly from one area to another, allowing each inspector to view more structure in less time.

Flight Demonstration

The flight began with Davis and Dusenbury conducting a full systems check followed by a detailed briefing of the mission. In his briefing, Dusenbury—a new Federal Aviation Administration–certified UAS pilot in the Bureau of Aeronautics—included current weather conditions, potential hazards, obstructions such as overhead wires, the flight profile, and actions to be taken in the event of an emergency.

TRB senior program officer Christine Gerencher (left) and New Jersey DOT UAS pilot Koree Dusenbury (right) prepare for the flight demonstration.

TRB senior program officer Christine
Gerencher (left) and New Jersey DOT UAS pilot Koree Dusenbury (right) prepare for the flight demonstration. Photo courtesy Stefanie Potapa

The visual observer is the crew’s safety person, who keeps a close eye on potential hazards to the mission. The resident engineer is tasked with ensuring the quality of work; traditionally, this person uses tools such as a bucket truck to inspect the bridge. When using a UAS, however, the resident engineer operates the camera controls and can pan, tilt, zoom, and take photos. The strict and professional communication phrases and safety procedures among the remote pilot, visual observer, and resident engineer during the flight demonstrated impressive coordination and commitment to safety. The remote pilot first communicated each movement of the drone—which then was acknowledged by the crew—before making an input into the UAS controller.

Thanks to a large flat-screen television behind the rear seats of the New Jersey DOT Bureau of Aeronautics drone SUV, visitors and staff were able to observe everything on the control screens of the UAS operators and inspectors during the flight, in real time. This arrangement minimizes crew distractions and maximizes the level of detail available for resident engineers and other observers to evaluate. The large screen also displays flight telemetry, such as battery levels, altitude, speed, and camera settings. The inspection camera’s optical zoom is capable of 30x magnification, so the drone can safely fly 20 feet away from a bridge and can still zoom in to magnify critical areas needing closer inspection.

Gerencher commented that the format of the visit could be used as a model for other states on how to prepare for annual TRB state partnership visits.

Potapa is Research Project Manager, Bureau of Research; Gendek is Manager, Bureau of Research; and Stott is Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator, Bureau of Aeronautics, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Trenton.

Click here for a PDF of this article.


This article originally appeared in TR News, January-February 2020 issue. TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.

DVRPC’s Sidewalk Inventory and Crowdsourcing Platform

Improved walkability and accessibility help to create vibrant and healthy communities. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the metropolitan planning organization for Greater Philadelphia and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey, is seeking to understand the region’s pedestrian infrastructure through the development of an online inventory, map, and platform for public participation and crowdsourcing. According to DVRPC, the goal of the project is, “to assist with planning efforts to help communities in the region become more pedestrian-friendly and accessible.”

Options from the DVRPC Pedestrian Portal homepage

DVRPC hopes that these new tools will assist the agency and its partners to more efficiently identify and prioritize walkability improvements across the region. The online platform is expected to improve asset management and support various regional planning and place-specific initiatives such as Safe Routes to School, pedestrian safety audits, plans for healthy communities, and strategies for providing safe and equitable access to public transportation.

The need for better sidewalk data was suggested by DVRPC staff during a data roundtable meeting and became the impetus for the Sidewalk Inventory Project, according to DVRPC’s Kim Korejko. The MPO had already conducted work on bicycle infrastructure in the region, but lacked data on pedestrian infrastructure. The absence of a good inventory of sidewalk data was also felt by agency staff who had previously worked on transit station area walkability studies. To address this gap, DVRPC resolved to assemble a seamless and standardized GIS dataset of sidewalks in the region.

DVRPC sought state funding from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to start the project in 2018. The planned platform for crowdsourcing and community involvement was well-aligned with “PennDOT Connects,” a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation initiative that supports collaboration with communities to sustain and expand mobility in the state. This alignment was a principal reason that the project received funding from Pennsylvania. The crowdsourcing platform also aligns well with the Federal Highway Administration EDC-5 initiative to advance crowdsourcing for operations.

Chester and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania had previously developed sidewalk databases, but the counties did not follow a standardized methodology for data visualization. As a result, DVRPC needed to rework the data for integration into the new dataset. Philadelphia County was also assembling sidewalk data at the time, but differences in data methodology along with the county’s scale have led to delays in assembling and publishing their inventory.

A visualization of Chester and Montgomery counties original sidewalk databases

The DVRPC sidewalk inventory is not the first of its kind in the country. TriMet, Portland, Oregon’s transit operator, undertook a pedestrian network analysis in 2011 with the goal of improving pedestrian access to transit stops, especially in the suburbs surrounding the city. Once compiled, TriMet was able to put forth 10 pedestrian access projects to improve pedestrian access to transit stops, the majority of which were bus stops, but also to light rail and commuter rail stations. TriMet is continuing its pedestrian network analysis, and is seeking public comment on transit stops with low pedestrian accessibility. DVRPC also cited Denver and Seattle’s sidewalk inventories as inspiration for the Philadelphia project.

The TriMet Pedestrian Network Analysis can be found here.

DVRPC staff were surveyed prior to the assembly of the database to explore how they would use the tool and what features they would want:

  • Sidewalk mileage and gaps — 60 percent said they would use the database to calculate sidewalk mileage and gaps to set goals and measure progress for improved network walkability.
  • Pedestrian routing and modeling — 57 percent sought to use the database for pedestrian network routing and modeling
  • Visualization — 51 percent would use it to help visualize the sidewalk data.

In terms of the data features captured by the inventory and mapping, 83 percent of staff said that they wanted to know sidewalk presence, 70 percent wanted to know the sidewalk conditions, and 59 percent wanted to know of the presence of curb ramps.

A look at the sidewalk inventory in Camden, New Jersey

Out of 30 responses, 29 staff members stated that they wanted to know the presence of crosswalks, 24 wanted to see what pedestrian signalization types are present at intersections, and 15 wanted to know the characteristics of crosswalks in the network.

DVRPC has published a sidewalk inventory, including curb ramps and crosswalks for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties on the Pennsylvania side of their region. A sidewalk inventory for the New Jersey portion of the region was added in February 2020. Release of the Philadelphia County inventory is expected in fall 2020.

To leverage its limited capacity to maintain the database, DVRPC is seeking to crowdsource sidewalk conditions by engaging the public to help keep the map up-to-date and accurate. Community members will be able to create an account to access the editing platform to add new infrastructure and attributes to the database.

In addition, DVRPC hopes to identify and maintain a list of potential pedestrian facility projects through its Pedestrian Facilities and Planning Portal. The portal will provide a space for collaboration between local and regional planning partners working on pedestrian improvements. The secure online interface will (1) provide access to and accommodate maintenance of the regional sidewalk inventory by local entities and (2) allow local and regional planning partners to share their pedestrian facility priorities (such as those identified in their comprehensive/ master plans or those for which they seek grant funding) on an interactive map.

While the planning and editing portals are not yet active, the sidewalk, crosswalk, and curb ramp shapefiles can be downloaded through the DVRPC GIS portal for those wishing to use the inventory for analysis. Once the data has been fully assembled, DVRPC plans to undertake further analyses of pedestrian access to transit and bus stations.

The Greater Philadelphia Pedestrian Portal, which includes the currently available New Jersey and Pennsylvania inventories, can be found here.

A view of the attributes for a sidewalk in Glassboro, New Jersey

Resources:

City of Seattle. “Access Map, Walkability.” https://www.accessmap.io/.

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. “The Greater Philadelphia Pedestrian Portal.” https://walk.dvrpc.org/.

Korejko, Kim. March 2018. DVRPC’s Sidewalk Inventory Project. Presentation. https://www.dvrpc.org/Walk/pdf/DVRPCSidewalkInventory_websiteMar2018.pdf.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “PennDOT Connects.” https://www.penndot.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/Planning/Pages/PennDOT-Connects.aspx.

TriMet. “Improving Pedestrian Access to Transit.” https://trimet.org/walk/.

Walk Denver. June 2016. “Congratulations to the WALKscope Data Challenge Winners!” http://www.walkdenver.org/congratulations-to-the-walkscope-data-challenge-winners/

TECH TALK! Webinar: EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian

UPDATE: This live webinar has been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date.

Those who are registered will remain registered.

 

Please join the NJDOT Bureau of Research on April 2nd for an Innovation Exchange Webinar, “EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)”, that we are convening in Training Room A in the E&O Building at NJDOT Headquarters.

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP), an Every Day Counts (EDC) innovation, is about a new type of “STEP” to keep pedestrians safe at uncontrolled road crossing locations. This webinar will outline five cost-effective countermeasures available to local agencies, and identify resources to guide in their selection and installation. Stories from local agencies will tell of county, city, and Tribal deployment leadership, with details on site and countermeasure selection, installation, monitoring, and improved safety measures of success.

AICP and NJ PE credits are available. This “live” webinar event is free to attend, but you must register ahead of time to guarantee a seat as there is limited space in the training room:

WEBINAR: EDC Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)

POSTPONE AND WILL BE RESCHEDULED.

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM; Sign-in: 12:50 pm
Location:  NJDOT E&O Building, Training Room A
1035 Parkway Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08625

This Innovation Exchange webinar is one in a series sponsored by the Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery.  Through Innovative Exchange webinars, CLAS is bringing cutting-edge transportation leaders to the table to share ideas and out of the box innovative practices that have proven results.

 

EDC-5: Weather-Responsive Management Strategies

Join the NJDOT Bureau of Research on Tuesday, April 14th for a Lunchtime Tech Talk! event on EDC-5: Weather-Responsive Management Strategies.

This event will feature Ray Murphy, ITS Specialist with the FHWA Resource Center.

By adopting WRMS, transportation agencies can better manage traffic and maintenance roadway conditions during inclement weather to improve safety and reliability, and minimize environmental impacts of weather on the transportation system. WMRS use road weather data from Integrating Mobile Observations (IMO) and connected vehicle technologies, combined with informed decisions stemming from the collaborative strategy known as Pathfinder. With this data, State and local agencies can deploy appropriate traffic management strategies where they are needed before negative incidents occur, and reduce costs associated with winter maintenance, including salt and chemical applications.

In addition to expertise in Road Weather Management, Mr. Murphy is an expert in the areas of transportation cybersecurity and connected/automated vehicles. He has more than 30 years of experience as an electrical engineer, having served both in the U.S. Naval Civil Engineers Corps (SEABEES) and Illinois Department of Transportation.

NJ PE and AICP credits are available. The event is free, but please RSVP ahead of time to reserve a seat to attend the event.

EDC-5: Weather-Responsive Management Strategies
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 PM
Location:  NJDOT E&O Building
Training Room A
1035 Parkway Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

Final Report Released for the Connected Vehicles Program Pilot Testing of Technology for Distributing Road Service Safety Messages from Safety Service Patrols

NJDOT’s top priority is to improve highway safety. To support this goal, in September 2018, New Jersey began a pilot study of the effectiveness of using connected vehicle technology to alert the motoring public to the presence of safety service patrol (SSP) workers at incident sites.  With the support of the NJ State Innovation Council (NJ STIC) and a STIC Incentive Funding grant of $39,600 awarded by FHWA, NJDOT piloted the use of Beacon Hazard Lights technology on 32 safety service vehicles to alert drivers to the presence of workers via the mobile navigation app Waze. The device, which is produced by iCone, uses GPS location and wireless communication technology to transmit the location of the SSP vehicles to the iCone Data Server in the cloud where it can be picked up by Waze. Together with the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) ITS Resource Center, NJDOT published a final report of their findings from the pilot project in December 2019, available here.

The SSP location and message shown on the Waze.com website. Photo Source: Cowan et al., 2019.

The primary goal of the study was to test the feasibility of the iCone technology on SSP vehicles by analyzing the time elapsed between device activation and Waze notification, to examine the Verizon 4G cellular network strength for potential coverage loss that could result in service disruption in communication, and to analyze the effectiveness of the equipment through several testing means. The methods of evaluation to complete these objectives were field and remote testing of the technology and documentation of the equipment installation and repairs. Field testing was conducted from January to October 2019 by activating the iCone-enabled SSP truck hazard lights and Dynamic Message Board (DMS) at 2-mile intervals along the entire 280-mile SSP coverage area. An analyst conducted remote testing through monitoring of the iCone and Waze web-based interfaces.

The results of field testing showed that, on average, communication with Waze was successful 76 percent of the time, 20 percent of the time the device communicated with the iCone Data Server but not Waze, and the remaining 4 percent of the time the device did not transmit its location to the iCone Data Server or Waze. The average time elapsed from the iCone device activation to its appearance in Waze was 2 minutes and 41 seconds. On two days of testing along the SSP coverage area, there was no communication between the iCone device and iCone Data Server or Waze.

In addition to field testing, analysts conducted remote testing of 85 active instances of the iCone device by observing the iCone and Waze web portals. In 59 percent of these 85 instances, the active iCone device was detected in Waze, with 29 percent of these successful detections showing the exact timestamp in both Waze and iCone. These results were shared with Waze so that the company could address the issues related to missing and delayed data transmission. For equipment evaluation, results showed that by April 2019, 12 of the units had technical problems that were attributed to the winter weather conditions in New Jersey including snow, road salt, and extreme cold. The iCone engineering team was responsive to the issues and re-evaluated the device design so that replaced units could withstand the weather conditions. A prototype of the newly-designed replacement devices was delivered to NJDOT in December 2019 and has been installed in five of the vehicles.

The installation of the device on an SSP vehicle by an iCone technician. Photo Source: Cowan et al., 2019.

The researchers believe that this technology evaluation pilot project was the first of any state DOT to seek to inform the public of SSP patrol vehicle locations with the sole objective of increasing safety.  The pilot project provided valuable analysis and lessons learned to inform next steps for NJDOT. Testing and analysis of installed devices and their replacements will continue until the end of the product warranty period on September 1, 2021. Additionally, researchers recommended further investigation of the disruptions and delays in the communication path from the iCone device to Waze.  Additional coordination with each technical partner during the steps of the testing process could help to identify the cause of service disruptions.

During the study, NJIT and iCone were unable to obtain Waze data showing how many people clicked the “thumbs up” to the message on the app. Future analysis should investigate how to gather reactions of the motoring public to Waze notifications. The researchers recommended exploring partnerships with crowdsourcing GPS navigation providers to further learn how drivers are reacting, which should include a data transfer process and strategies for reducing latency between iCone data server and Waze.

The Final Report contains additional information on the purpose of the research, the role of various stakeholder organizations in the research, a description of the technology devices and tools procured and used in the research, and the evaluation results.  The Final Report was submitted to the FHWA and is available to review here.

Featured Image Source: NJDOT, 2019.

NJ STIC 2020 Winter Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) held its 2020 Winter Meeting on February 5th, 2020 in the NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room. The NJ STIC Agenda was distributed to the attendees along with handouts highlighting examples of past and ongoing NJ STIC innovative initiatives and how STIC incentive funding grants have been used.

After welcoming remarks from the NJDOT's Asst. Commissioner Michael Russo and Robert Clark, FHWA's Division Administrator, Helene Roberts from the FHWA NJ Division Office provided a brief update of the status of New Jersey's progress on Every Day Counts (EDC-5) innovative initiatives. Short presentations were given by the three Core Innovation Area (CIA) Teams—Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, and Mobility & Operations—reporting on the activities planned and underway. More detail on the innovative initiatives can be accessed here.

"Virtual Public Involvement" was the featured innovation topic for the meeting.  Representatives of New Jersey's three MPOs—Alan Huff from South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, Melissa Hayes and Ted Ritter from North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, and Alison Hastings from Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission—highlighted examples of their agency's efforts, performance metrics, lessons learned and challenges using social media, polling, videos, surveys, and mapping tools among other strategies.

Amanda Gendek, Manager of the NJDOT Bureau of Research and Ms. Roberts then conducted an interactive polling exercise that invited attendees to use their cell phones to collaborate with the NJ STIC leadership team. Participants were asked a series of questions exploring their interest and soliciting their input on possible topics for a future STIC meeting that would feature breakout sessions on the EDC-5 innovative initiative. The results from the interactive polling exercise and informal feedback given throughout its administration will assist the leadership team in planning a future event.

Ms. Gendek noted that "NJ STIC Examples in Excellence" will be featured at the NJ TransAction Conference 2020 to be held on April 28, 2020 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City at 4:00pm. And look for an article on NJDOT's UAS Demonstration for the TRB representative to be published in the Jan/Feb 2020 TR News.  Attendees were also informed of an upcoming Tech Talk! Event, "Micromobility in New Jersey and Beyond"  scheduled for February 20, 2020 in NJDOT's Multi-Purpose Room for which registration is open. The event will highlight research conducted by the NJ's Bicycle Pedestrian Resource Center and feature speakers intimately familiar with Hoboken and Asbury Park initiatives to bring bike share and e-scooters to their communities. 

She also announced that the Bureau of Research would like to create short videos on STIC innovative initiatives that local agencies have implemented in order to highlight these accomplishments and encourage adoption by others. Contact her if you would like to participate.

Finally, attendees viewed the new NJ Build a Better Mousetrap video featuring Gerald Oliveto in NJDOT Operations Support and Engineering with the 2019 winning innovation, the Bridge Fender Navigation Lighting Reflective Backup System. The video and a fuller description of the competition and innovation, can be found on the Build a Better Mousetap page.

The Spring Meeting is scheduled for May 6, 2020.

The NJ STIC Winter Meeting Presentations can be found in sections below.

Welcome; FHWA Update; Roundtable Recap
CIA Team Update: SAFETY
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Mobility and Operations
MPO Implementation of Virtual Public Involvement
Interactive Survey & Results
Roundtable, Reminders & Announcements, Wrap Up

NJLTAP – Proven Safety Countermeasures Workshops – Upcoming Events

New Jersey is currently a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) focus approach state for both Pedestrians and Intersections, with approximately 24% of fatal and serious injury crashes involving Intersections and 27% involving Pedestrians and Bicycles. In New Jersey, approximately 60% of fatal and serious injury crashes are occurring on the local system.

The New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) has partnered with the FHWA Division Office, NJDOT Bureau of Safety, Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs and Local Aid and Economic Development, and our three Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop a half-day workshop focused on the FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures and the funding available for improvements to the local system.

This workshop provides guidance on the FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures that local public agencies can implement to successfully address roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes. The course will provide emphasis on intersection and pedestrian safety countermeasures, as well as potential funding sources (both federal and state) for implementing such countermeasures. Further, emphasis will be provided to include ways to implement the countermeasures into existing projects as proactive low-cost solutions to safety improvements.

Registration is required to attend any of these workshop events to be in North, South and Central regions of NJ. AICP and PE credits will be available. There is no fee for these workshops, but advance registration is required.

Visit the NLTAP Training and Events page for more information and to register for any of the 3 workshops:

The Impact of SJTPO’s Traffic Signal Inventory on Signal Operations

As technology advances, so does the need for data—information that allows engineers, planners, and others to utilize innovative ways to improve transportation and safety. To implement smart traffic systems, whereby centrally controlled traffic signals and sensors regulate the flow of traffic, agencies must know the present state of their traffic signal infrastructure. The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO), the metropolitan planning organization for four counties in South Jersey, sought to better understand their infrastructure by developing a database of all traffic signals in the region. Completed in 2017, the database provides local agencies with the information needed to target intersections and signals for upgrades and replacements. Replacement with newer integrated traffic signals improves traffic flow, allows for remote signal monitoring and regional signal maintenance, and supports bicycle and pedestrian improvements at intersections.

A traffic signal located in SJTPO’s region. (Source: Tracy, 2017)

In 2016, SJTPO sought to create a database for all traffic signals within Atlantic, Cape May, and Salem Counties. Previously, Cumberland County had developed a traffic signal inventory which SJTPO plans to integrate into the new, comprehensive database. SJTPO and county governments wanted to know the count, age, and types of signals in their jurisdictions. An SJTPO study in Vineland found that many of their signals were very old, with one using circa 1955 electromechanical components to operate. In addition, traffic signal maintenance progressively transferred from municipalities to counties and records of some signals were found to be deficient. The lack of information needed to properly maintain signals was a major impetus for creating the database, according to Andrew Tracy formerly of SJTPO (Source: Tracy, 2017).

Agencies across the country have created similar traffic signal databases. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the regional metropolitan planning organization for Chicago and the surrounding seven counties, undertook development of a signal database in 2013 for the region, with the first version released to the public in 2018. CMAP’s goals for the database reflect those of SJTPO. The agency seeks to use the information for planning, and targeting specific signals and intersections for upgrades and replacement.

For an RFP issued to support its regional signal timing initiative,  SJTPO included a list of specific intersections identified by the counties for possible improvements. Extensive outreach to counties and municipalities to acquire signal data and plans took place prior to the database assembly to minimize the field work needed. For all data acquisition requiring field work, the subcontractor created an application to minimize errors with data input. The participating counties gave data collectors the keys to their controller cabinets along with a permission note in case police questioned them during their field work efforts. The signals were classified by features such as signal location, mast arm, head, sign, and presence of pedestrian push buttons. Additional information collected included intersection features such as ADA ramps, crosswalks, etc.

A look at SJTPO’s map and reviewer application for data input. (Source: Tracy, 2017)

Traffic data was also collected at identified intersections, including turning movement counts, queue lengths, delays, and travel times. This information could be used for traffic simulation modeling, performance measurement of intersections, and  revised signal timing plans. Extensive photography of the signals and intersections complemented the data set and provided visual aids. In total, 431 signals, including 258 traditional traffic signals and 173 beacons, were logged in the database across the 3 counties. The signal inventory was completed in 2017 and each county updates the database when a signal or intersection receives upgrades.

The traffic signal inventory database has created a variety of benefits for SJTPO and the region’s residents. One of the most noticeable benefits for local agencies has been access to data to target specific signals for upgraded technology, such as vehicle detection cameras and GPS clocks for signal coordination, or installation of new signals. The database can help identify intersections for bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements and greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps and improved crosswalks. Signal upgrades benefit residents by improving traffic flow, and allowing for implementation of remote signal monitoring and signal maintenance at a regional, rather than local, level. Finally, the database reinforces knowledge preservation to ease any transitions in the event of staff turnover.

For other agencies considering a similar database, a Signal Inventory configuration is available via Collector for ArcGIS and performs similar functions as the SJTPO in-house application. Additional information on the process for assembling the SJTPO’s Traffic Signal Inventory Database can be found in a webinar (see below)  hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Geospatial Transportation Users Group.

Sources:

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “Highway Traffic Signal Inventory: Draft Proposal.” CMAP, October 29, 2015. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/481346/RegionnalSignals_Proposal_20151029_forRTOC.pdf/3aef6a03-a792-44ed-9515-11496c9c25f8.

South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization. “Request for Proposals: Regional Signal Timing Initiative.” SJTPO, July 13, 2017. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/SJTPO-RFP-Regional_Signal_Timing_Initiative.pdf.

Tracy, Andrew. October 30, 2017. The South Jersey Regional Traffic Signal Improvement Program. Presentation. https://www.sjtpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CAC-10-30-2017-Andrew-Tracy-Signals.pdf.

Tracy, Andrew, Colleen Richwald, David Braig, and Matthew Duffy. October 12, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMO7-NYuXZ0.