Focus Area
ITS Technologies
Submitting On Behalf Of
AASHTO Committee on TSO
Important - Medium Priority
$250,000 - 499,000
1 - 2 years
Type of Research
Full Research Project
Date Posted
Jul 1, 2019
Not Funded

Research Description

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are electronic roadway elements, such as variable/dynamic message signs, closed-circuit television cameras, ramp metering systems, vehicle detection systems, connected vehicle technology, road weather information systems, etc., that enhance the safety, efficiency, and management of our transportation networks. Despite the known benefits, however, funding for ITS has often been difficult to obtain, due to at least partially the lack of empirical data surrounding the benefits of ITS deployments. One area where data is needed to be able to justify and obtain funding for ITS is in the quantification of the air quality benefits ITS deployments can provide through improved traffic flow and management. ITS provides critical information to the traveling public, incident management personnel, and other decision makers which leads to improved traffic operations, incident clearance times, and congestion management and mitigation. All of these benefits theoretically lead to improved air quality when compared to a system that does not have ITS, however, there is little documentation on that air quality benefit. Federal CMAQ funding, for example, requires demonstration of a positive air quality benefit for a project to get funded. ITS projects have qualified for CMAQ funding in the past, however, it has been difficult to quantify the air quality benefits to secure this type of funding due to lack of data available.

The main question this study would answer: What are the air quality benefits for individual and system-wide deployments of various ITS elements, such as variable/dynamic message signs/Traveler Information Systems (TIS), CCTV, RWIS, CV Technology, TMS/Detection systems, Ramp Metering/Freeway-to-Freeway Metering systems, as well as backbone systems, such as fiber optic communications and power distribution systems, that support ITS operations?

In summary, ITS deployments are cost effective ways to enhance operations on our roadways and improve the environment. Doing a national study to document the air quality benefits that result from ITS deployments would help DOTs nationwide secure needed funding for these deployments.

Additional Supporting Information

Google searches for "air quality benefits intelligent transportation systems" and "environmental impacts of intelligent transportation systems" yield limited and outdated resources on these topics. FHWA resources that come up speak to the positive environmental impacts of ITS, but do not detail the actual benefits. It is clear that more definitive research is needed in this area.

Submitted By
Tyler Laing
Utah DOT


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