States to Have Highway Monitoring Systems by 2016

Under the new regulation, federal and state highways— like I-95 shown above—will be continuously monitored. Photo by J.J. Smith

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule requiring the states and U.S. territories to have real-time traffic monitoring programs operational by Nov. 8, 2016. However, each state will determine the type of monitoring technology it will use.

The regulation—“Real-Time System Management Information Program”—was posted on the Federal Register on Nov. 8, 2010, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is accepting comments on the rule until Dec. 23, 2010, the day it takes effect. However, many states have already accomplished much of the work necessary to establish their realtime information program, says the notice.

The rule says, under the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU), the DOT is required to establish a “real-time system management information program” that provides the capability to monitor—in real-time—the traffic and travel conditions of the major highways of the United States and to share that data with state and local governments and with the traveling public.

The rule establishes minimum parameters and requirements for states to make available and share traffic and travel conditions information via realtime information programs, the notice says.

In addition, while the rule becomes effective Dec. 23, 2010, the establishment of the real-time information program for traffic and travel conditions reporting along Interstate system highways shall be completed by Nov. 8, 2014, while a real-time information program for traffic and travel conditions reporting along the state-designated metropolitan area routes of significance shall be completed by Nov. 8, 2016.

A system to monitor the traffic and travel conditions of the major highways of the United States and to share that information to improve the security of the surface transportation system is needed to address congestion problems; to support improved response to weather events and surface transportation incidents; and to facilitate national and regional highway traveler information, the notice says.

NO SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS

However, the regulations do not impose any requirement for the states to apply a specific technology, or a specific technology-dependent application, or a specific business approach for establishing a realtime information program. States and other public agencies are encouraged to consider any salient technology that yields information consistent with the requirements set forth in the rule.

States are also encouraged to work with value added information providers to establish real-time information programs. Value added information providers presently and in the future will create information products for commercial use, for sale to a customer base, or for other commercial enterprise purposes. Such products could be derived from public sector sources in addition to the private sector’s own capabilities for creating information content.

Comments can be submitted electronically to the Federal eRulemaking portal online. All comments should include the document number DOCIN: fr08no10-4. Comments must be received by the close of business on Dec. 23, 2010, and any late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable, the notice says.

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