Costs and Benefits of MDOT Intelligent Transportation System Deployments

Traffic congestion has been a worldwide problem as a result of increased motorized traffic and urbanization. Congestion reduces efficiency of transportation infrastructure and increases travel time, fuel consumption, and air pollution. In many regions in the United States, traffic jams can occur at any daylight hour, many nighttime hours and on weekends. The problems that travelers and shippers face include extra travel time, unreliable travel time and a system that is vulnerable to a variety of irregular congestion-producing incidents. According to the Urban Mobility Report (Schrank et al., 2011), congestion caused urban Americans to travel 4.8 billion hours more and to purchase an extra 1.9 billion gallons of fuel at a cost of $101 billion in 2010. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) has been regarded as a cost-effective solution to help travelers in using existing transportation infrastructure by taking advantages from advanced communication technologies, such as advanced traveler information systems (ATIS), advanced traffic management systems (ATMS), advanced public transportation systems (APTS) and commercial vehicle operations (CVO). The concept of ITS has evolved and ITS applications have been expanded to various directions including the Connected Vehicles (CV) technology that applies advanced vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-device (V2D) communications technologies. Typically, ITS application areas are classified into two parts: intelligent infrastructure and intelligent vehicles. While applications of intelligent vehicles include collision avoidance, collision notification, driver assistance, etc., those of intelligent infrastructure include various roadside traffic operations and management applications, such as freeway management systems, arterial management systems, crash prevention and safety systems, road weather information systems, traffic incident management, transit management, emergency management, traveler information systems, commercial vehicle operations, intermodal freight management, etc. Various ITS applications are invented and deployed to fulfill U.S. DOT's ITS goals, such as safety, mobility, efficiency, productivity, energy and environmental impacts, and customer satisfaction. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) strategic plan is followed by regional ITS architectures and deployment plans. MDOT has also invested many advanced ITS technologies, such as Connected Vehicles, to hold leadership in this area as a home state of automobile industry. While many new ITS technologies are being developed and tested worldwide, advanced traffic control and information systems have been deployed to help Michigan motorists and travelers. MDOT's ITS deployment plans include applications in freeway traffic management systems, arterial management system, advanced public transportation systems, freeway service patrols, smart work zone, road weather information systems, and emergency traffic management. MDOT has invested significantly in ITS deployments across the state over the last six years. Michigan's traffic safety and operations have been improved by deploying these ITS technologies. As Peter Ferdinand Drucker, a social ecologist, stated that "You cannot manage what you cannot measure," performance measures are very important. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) emphasizes the importance of performance-based planning in the latest authorization of transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). One of the key words in MAP-21 is performance measures. Under MAP-21, performance management is emphasized as a means to more efficient investment through performance-based planning and programming (FHWA, 2012). In fact, due to an increasingly competitive fiscal environment, transportation agencies around the country are being asked more than ever to justify their programs and expenditures. ITS investments are not an exception from this requirement. However, the benefits of Michigan ITS have not been fully quantified yet. Accordingly, MDOT is lacking in responding to inquiries from public and legislators on the costs and benefit of ITS deployments despite its great benefits to Michigan travelers. Therefore, there are needs for reviewing and quantifying costs and benefits of MDOT's ITS investments.