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USDOT Spotlights MCDOT High-Tech Traffic Management Research

Anthem, AZ — Daisy Mountain Drive is known amongst locals for its scenic desert views and vibrant neighborhood businesses. But, it is also home to a state-of-the-art field lab for testing new transportation technology systems for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadway communication systems. Maricopa County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) SMARTDrive Test Bed was selected to be part of the United States Domestic Scan Program’s visit to Arizona to study advances in Integrated Corridor Management.

The U.S. Domestic Scan Team is an elite group of professional transportation leaders from across the country pulled together by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to facilitate information sharing about the latest in innovations in traffic management technologies and research.

“Yesterday’s Scan Team visit to our Anthem Test Bed demonstrates how SMARTDrive has put MCDOT in the national forefront of the SMART signal system technology transformation,” said Faisal Saleem, MCDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Branch Manager. “MCDOT’s testing is leading research in emerging technologies to fine tune traffic control systems that, in the very near future, will link all drivers to both their surroundings and other vehicles on the road. This means fewer crashes and more saved lives.”

With this new system, traffic control signals will have two-way communication with emergency vehicles, and the vehicles will be in communication with one another. When one or more emergency response vehicles are approaching an intersection from different directions, the SMARTDrive Intelligent Traffic Signal System will selectively prioritize and notify all approaching emergency vehicles which vehicle has the right-of-way, significantly improving both intersection operation and safety. The MCDOT SMARTDrive Program is a collaborative partnership between Maricopa County and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) through the Arizona Connected Vehicle Program.

The MCDOT SMARTDrive Test Bed has garnered national attention since its launch in spring 2012. MCDOT ITS engineers and University of Arizona researchers are on the national forefront developing a vehicle prioritization system that will make signalized intersections safer nationwide for emergency responders and the general public, according to Saleem and UA Systems and Industrial Engineering researcher, Dr. Larry Head.

The MCDOT SMARTDrive field test corridor is helping to lay the groundwork toward the future deployment of smart vehicle systems throughout the country. “The installation of vehicle prioritization systems for emergency vehicles at the intersections will also provide core infrastructure for the path to national deployment. Over the next decade, as the nation’s public and private vehicle fleets are renewed and equipped with this technology, this system will lead the way in making intersections significantly safer,” said Saleem.

MCDOT’s SMARTDrive Test Bed in Anthem, along with CALTRANS test site in California, were both selected to serve as national test sites for the Intelligent Traffic Signal System applications funded by the US Department of Transportation and the Cooperative Transportation Systems Pooled Fund Study (CTS PFS). These sites collect and exchange data to develop and design a test plan to implement system and operational requirements for the futuristic Intelligent Traffic Signal System.

Faisal Saleem, MCDOT ITS Branch Manager, speaks to visiting US Domestic Scan Program Group during MCDOT SMARTDrive demonstration in Anthem on Tuesday.


New Website Helps Local Communities Prepare for Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program /CV Pilots Deployment Project

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced plans for several regional connected vehicle pilot projects in different parts of the U.S., and a new website has been established to help educate interested stakeholders about this potential opportunity. The USDOT plans to release a request for proposals for the pilot program in early 2015. These pilots will serve as initial implementations of connected vehicle technology deployed in real-world settings with the aim of delivering near-term safety, mobility, and environmental benefits to the public. Details about the program can be found at

The new website includes the following: the latest news about the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program; a downloadable fact sheet; examples of how local communities can participate in the pilot program; a list of proposed applications; a high-level roadmap outlining how the program will be rolled out; and a proposed program schedule. Visit USDOT ITS Joint Program Office for more information.


President Obama Tours Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Ctr./Speaks on V2V-V2I

Via Augusta Free Press and ITS news release

President Barack Obama visited FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA last week where he was given a tour of the research and testing facility and delivered remarks on the importance of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure  communication technology. ITS America also toured the facility alongside the President. Partial remarks by President Obama–visit Augusta Free Press for full transcript.

“As the father of a daughter who just turned 16, any new technology that makes driving safer is important to me.  And new technology that makes driving smarter is good for the economy.  One study shows that Americans spend 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, which costs us $120 billion in wasted time and gas – that’s 800 bucks per commuter.  Then you’ve got outdated roads and bridges that mean businesses pay an extra $27 billion in freight costs, which are then passed on to consumers.  So, all told, transportation eats up more of the typical family’s household budget than anything except the rent or a mortgage – which means that the cutting-edge research that all of you are doing here helps save lives and save money, and leads to new jobs and new technologies and new industries. And that’s why America has to invest more in the kind of job-creating research and development that you’re doing right here at the Highway Research Center.” ITS America also distributed a news release on the event.


ITS America Statement on Latta-Issa-Eshoo-Matsui 5.9 GHz Spectrum Bill

Washington, D.C. (July 17, 2014) – Scott F. Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), today released the following statement in response to the Wi-Fi Innovation Act introduced by U.S. Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) that would put pressure on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow unlicensed devices to operate in the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum set aside by the FCC for life-saving vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology showcased by President Barack Obama on Tuesday during a visit to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia:

“ITS America and our members were thrilled to join President Obama this week to celebrate the latest connected vehicle technologies that are making our roads safer and our infrastructure smarter,” said ITS America President and CEO Scott Belcher. “As President Obama said this week, ‘Any new technology that makes driving safer is important to me and new technology that makes driving smarter is good for the economy.’ Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication has the potential to prevent or mitigate 4 out of 5 unimpaired vehicle crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saving tens of thousands of lives each year while improving mobility and reducing wasted time and fuel.”

Belcher continued, “While we support efforts to make better use of the nation’s airwaves and recognize the cable industry’s interest in gaining access to the 5.9 GHz band, I cannot think of a more appropriate, innovative and important use of spectrum than saving tens of thousands of lives each year and reducing the nearly $1 trillion cost of crashes and congestion to American families and our nation’s economy.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults in the United States, with more than 33,000 annual fatalities, 2.3 million injuries, and an economic cost of $871 billion according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Traffic congestion costs Americans another $121 billion in wasted time and fuel according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, stifling economic growth and creating 5.5 billion hours of additional delay for commuters.

More than 3,000 vehicles are already operating with V2V technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a result of the U.S. DOT-sponsored Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot, which is being expanded to 20,000 – 30,000 vehicles and V2I applications, and the technology is expected to be adopted in all newly manufactured vehicles in the next few years thanks to collaborative efforts between the U.S. DOT and major automakers and tech companies who developed and tested the technology over the past decade. The technology is already being deployed in Japan and is expected to be adopted in Europe as early as next year.

In response to a Senate companion bill introduced last month, U.S. DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Gregory Winfree testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that, “We have very serious concerns about any spectrum sharing that prevents or delays access to the desired channel, or otherwise preempts the safety applications. At this time, the Department is unaware of any existing or proposed technical solution which guarantees interference free operation of the DSRC safety critical applications while allowing Wi-Fi enabled devices to share the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”

Belcher concluded, “ITS America supports the collaborative effort, which is already underway, to explore whether a technical solution exists that would allow Wi-Fi devices to operate in the 5.9 GHz band without interfering with these critical safety applications. But this process should be allowed to proceed without arbitrary deadlines, restrictive parameters or political pressure that could influence the outcome.”


2014 ITS Arizona 21st Annual Conference

The deadline for abstract submission has been extended to Friday, July 18, 2014! We already have CS Technologies as our Platinum Sponsor, along with six other sponsors and a variety of exhibitors. This year’s conference has also been expanded to include lunch on the first day, sponsored by YS Mantri & Associates. Hurry and submit your abstracts as spaces are limited! Click the Conference tab above for more details.