#2 of 10 Reasons WISDOT Budget Needs to Change

Reason 2.  We should invest more in Smart Highways that reduce construction costs and manage traffic better.

Wisconsin’s highway system is currently under stress due to maintenance and funding constraints. Several studies have shown that it is not possible to build our way out of congestion – however this is exactly what the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is proposing to do. Most of the projected increases in traffic which might lead to congestion are slated to occur in urban areas. Urban settings already suffer from space constraints, and it is unlikely that roadway expansions could occur there.

reasons_2.1One of the ways to properly manage a transportation system without roadway expansion while getting its benefits, at a fraction of the cost, is through the deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS is a suite of tools which use technology to maximize the performance of an existing transportation system.

These include:
• Detectors on highways to monitor system performance
• Dynamic messaging signs which provide motorists with real-time information on incidents and roadway conditions
• Co-ordination of traffic signals on a corridor
• Crash warning systems
• Websites and mobile phone applications
• Transit priority technologies
• Road work management systems

On ramp traffic meter

ITS deployments have the potential to offer the following benefits:
1. Reduce delays between 5 and 40%
2. Reduce crashes by up to 40%, increase capacity and decrease overall travel times by up to 60%.
3. Reduce transit travel times by up to 50% and increase reliability by 35%.
4. ITS has a huge benefit to cost ratio, in some cases as high as 36:1 – while highway capacity expansion only has a 2.7 – 1 ratio.

Often, Intelligent Transportation Systems are funded separately from highway expansion and capacity building. This is not optimal – as ITS works best when integrated completely into the life cycle of an infrastructure project. ITS has the potential to achieve huge amounts of cost savings – for example, a national real-time traffic information program is estimated to cost $1.2 billion but deliver value benefits of $30.2 billion.

Click here to see Reason 1 and check back tomorrow for the next reason why WISDOT budget needs to change