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A behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the LARTMC during KCET filming.  Left to right:  KCET camera operater, Allen Z. Chen, Douglas R. Failing, Angela Toledo (seated)and KCET producer/news anchor Val Zavalla.

THE SCIENCE OF TRAFFIC
by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 09/2008

Public television gets an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the Los Angeles Regional Transportation Management Center -– the nerve center of the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties freeway system.

As part of an upcoming feature story The Science of Traffic, public television station KCET in Los Angeles made a special visit to the Los Angeles Regional Transportation Management Center (LARTMC) in August for their Emmy-winning program So Cal Connected (formerly called Life & Times.) The program will provide an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes science and latest scientific technology used at the LARTMC in partnership by Caltrans, Metro and the California Highway Patrol, to improve mobility and relieve traffic congestion across California.

Across the country, transportation agencies such as Caltrans, are using science by applying advanced communication technologies, known as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), to improve transportation safety, mobility, efficiency and dependability. These systems came to fruition with the opening of the LARTMC in October, 2007.

In addition to KCET’s interest and upcoming story, slated to air October 9 at 7 p.m., the LARTMC has garnered increased media attention since its opening. Local, national and international media outlets have contacted Caltrans to see the world-class center and learn more about effective transportation management strategies.

Since 1992 Life & Times has been KCET's signature news and public affairs series. According to KCET, its mission is to “offer viewers in central and southern California a lively and substantive alternative to local news, providing in-depth reporting, interviews and features on issues and topics that impact Southern California’s diverse communities.” This highly respected series has won numerous awards over the past decade including 22 Los Angeles area Emmy Awards and 25 Golden Mike Awards.

KCET news anchor and producer Val Zavala and her film crew spent over nine hours behind the scenes at the LARTMC. Her first interview with Frank Quon, Deputy District Director for Operations, gave Zavala a brief history of the Center and its inception -- and the efforts to bring to new LARTMC to a reality. Several days later she interviewed District Director Douglas R. Failing and included filming of the day-to-day operations at the Center. Failing detailed how the $46-million LARTMC serves as the operations focal point for maximizing traffic flow and reducing congestion – and is the hub for “emergency response efforts and freeway incident management on the Los Angeles and Ventura County freeway systems,” Failing said.

The state-of-the-art Center is equipped with the latest transportation technologies to allow Caltrans working closely and cooperatively with the CHP, to better serve the motoring public by coordinating resources to effectively manage traffic and respond quickly to traffic incidents on 42 regional freeways. The center is the central site for collecting and disseminating data received from vehicle detection devices and freeway cameras through Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. It is also the operations center for the Los Angeles County Metro Freeway Service Patrol and Caltrans Maintenance Dispatch.

Zavala learned more about the state-of-the-art technologies that make the system operate from Allen Z. Chen, Senior Transportation Engineer for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). He explained the intricate workings of the fiber-optic cables and the complex and elaborate electronic systems which make the Center function to maximize the efficiency of the freeways while minimizing delays and unsafe traffic conditions. Transportation Engineers David Lau and Dominic Dulay -- as well as Transportation Engineering Technician Angel Toledo -- were also featured. They demonstrated the desk-top consoles, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and other systems used to identify, confirm and respond to traffic accidents and incidents. During KCET’s visit, at least four incidents, two involving motorcycles, were effectively managed, giving Zavala and her team a real, up-close-and-personal experience of how technology and science is helping motorists behind the scenes.

Working in partnership and putting science to work, Caltrans is achieving its mission, to Improve Mobility Across California, and the LARTMC is critical to that mission. For the motorist, it means a safer, smoother and less congested commute.


 

Science, technology and teamwork are the reasons behind the success of the state-of-the-art Los Angeles Regional Transportation Management Center. Left to right: Allen Z. Chen, Douglas R. Failing, Val Zavala and Angel Toledo (seated) watch the ever-changing video display during real-life, real-time incident management. Douglas R. Failing shares his expertise and explains the benefits of the LARTMC to Val Zavala. Douglas R. Failing provides a one-on-one interview with Val Zavala.