Office of Traffic Operations Research (TOR)

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Email Greg Larson
(916) 227-6182

Our team focuses on performing research and managing research projects that benefit the Divisions of Traffic Operations, Rail and Mass Transportation, and Design. Our emphasis includes supporting Caltrans strategic goals by upholding mandates, performing innovative and cross-cutting research, and promoting and advancing transportation system management. We oversee a variety of projects for customers and stakeholders from public transportation and modal research and intelligent transportation systems to emergency/incident response research and connected vehicle research.

What We Do

  • Intelligent Transportation Systems Development
  • Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) Research
  • Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance Systems (CICAS)
  • Research involving Advanced Transportation Management Systems(ATMS)
  • Web Appication and Page Development
  • Traffic Engineering Research and Rural Transportaion Research
  • Field Element Research Development

TOR Branches


Balwinder Tarlok, Chief
Email: balwinder.tarlok@dot.ca.gov

Our branch's responsibilities include managing public transportation and modal research related to solving passenger transportation problems that affect the safety, accessibility, convenience, connectivity, user friendliness, and affordability of the State's public transportation systems.

  • Bus Transit Research Program

    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products for Bus Transit Research. Working closely with our partners, we facilitate the sharing of knowledge and innovation in effort to increase the speed, efficiency, and reliability of high-capacity bus service throughout California.

  • Rail Research Program

    Assist and evaluate research and other technical activities in a variety of rail subject areas, including: design, construction, maintenance, operations, safety, security, policy, planning, human resources, and administration.

  • Aviation Research Program

    Assist and evaluate research projects related to the development of a safe, efficient, dependable, and environmentally compatible air transportation system.

  • Travel Behavior/Real Time Traveler Information

    Improve delivery of real-time traveler information to the public via web and mobile phone for better planning and operation of the State's transportation network.

  • Intermodal Connectivity

    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products for Intermodal Connectivity Research.

  • Design Research Program

    Assist and evaluate research and other technical activities in a variety of design subject areas.


Joel Retanan, Chief
Email: joel.retanan@dot.ca.gov

Our team manages safety-related research projects, which include bicycle-, pedestrian-, and truck-related projects; provides technical outreach and technical support to our customers and partners, including validation of vehicle detection systems; develops, administers, and manages DRISI websites; and administers and manages databases, such as the Research Program Management Database (RPMD) and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Database.


Pete Hansra, Chief
Email: pete.hansra@dot.ca.gov

Our primary responsibilities include facilitating research contracts in the corridor management, connected vehicle, freeway operations, and traffic incident management areas. Some of the secondary duties performed under this branch are: implementing innovative solutions to transportation challenges, evaluating new technologies, participating in various technology forums, and performing technical analysis of various legislative bills.

  • Corridor Management Research Program

    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products in Transportation research. Through the Corridor Management Research Program, we solve traffic safety and mobility problems through the development and deployment of aggressive and proactive integration and management of major transportation corridors.

  • Connected Vehicle Research Program

    Evaluate, develop, deploy, and demonstrate test-beds and applications for connected vehicle technology. The connected vehicle program is focused on solving traffic safety and mobility problems through developing connected vehicle applications for infrastructure, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Freeway Operations Research

    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies and products for freeway operations research. The Freeway Operations Research program is focused on safely and efficiently solving freeway traffic mobility problems through the development and deployment of innovative and proactive management tools that can be used on daily freeway operations.


Specialized Research

  • ITS Special Projects

    Sean Campbell, Senior Transportation Engineer, Electrical (Specialist)
    Email: sean.campbell@dot.ca.gov
    Responsibilities include managing in-house and external rural research projects, as well as providing technical support to Caltrans rural districts.

  • ITS Standards

    Gloria Gwynn, Senior Transportation Engineer, Electrical (Specialist)
    Email: gloria.gwynn@dot.ca.gov
    Responsibilities include providing public sector traffic engineering expertice, technical ITS and general traffic engineering expertise, and contract management services and guidance and for landscape and erosion control.

    • Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC)

      Provide public sector traffic engineering expertise to standards development organizations that produce connected vehicle/DSRC standards.

    • Traffic Engineering Research

      Provide technical expertise on ITS and general traffic engineering to the Department and our partners. Perform research on traffic engineering topics with a focus on developing standards that can be reused.

    • Landscape and Erosion Control

      Provide guidance and contract management services to the Landscape and Erosion Control TAP (Technical Advisory Panel) for development and completion of research programs.

  • Traffic Detection and Signal Operations

    John Slonaker, Senior Transporation Engineer, Electrical (Specialist)
    Email: john.slonaker@dot.ca.gov
    Responsibilities include managing research projects, both in-house and partnering with academia. The projects are related to traffic detection technology evaluation and development, innovations in traffic signal operations strategies, or machine vision based traffic incidents detection.

    • Traffic Detection Technology

      Evaluate commercial and experimental traffic detection devices to compare accuracy, range, and resolution; and to determine the appropriateness of various technologies for different detection scenarios.

    • Traffic Signal Operation

      Provide technical expertise on ITS and general traffic engineering to the Department and our partners. Perform research on traffic engineering topics with a focus on developing standards that can be reused.

    • Video Incident Detection

      Develop machine vision systems that automatically recognize certain types of incidents and other traffic behavior. These systems are generally developed to alert Traffic Management Center operators for incident management and to collect information for safety and incident mitigation planning.