California Department of Transportation
 

Annual Accomplishment Report – 2004

The Division of Research and Innovation’s purpose is to stimulate innovation in transportation by performing applied, customer-focused research that yields tangible products and process improvements to improve mobility across California. Some of the technological achievements of the past year are listed below.

Smart Parking

Smart parking management is the use of advanced technologies (primarily loop detectors and changeable message signs) to help direct drivers to available parking spaces at transit stations. Smart parking encourages transit ridership, lessens driver frustration, and reduces local congestion because it enables efficient management of parking spaces.

The Smart Parking Management Plan utilizes off-the-shelf technology to inform drivers approaching transit stations about the availability of parking spaces. This is accomplished through loop detectors that count the number of vehicles entering and exiting the transit station. This information is relayed to an on-site controller that processes the data, compares it to the known number of parking spaces, and sends the number of available parking spaces to a changeable message sign or signs located near the transit station. Drivers will know whether a parking space is immediately available to determine if they should continue on the highway or if there is another nearby parking lot with space available, they could travel to.

Please Click Here for the video of Smart Parking in the news.

ITS Decision: Understanding and Applying Intelligent Transportation Systems, Website Enhancements and Maintenance

ITS Decision is an interactive Website that provides up-to-date, synthesized, and reliable information to planners and engineers to enable them make more informed decisions about ITS development and deployment. ITS Decision can “mainstream” ITS into traditional transportation planning and serve as a training tool for educating beginners as well as expert professional planners, engineers, transportation practitioners, researchers, and students about ITS services and technologies.

The ITS Decision Website provides current, comprehensive, easy to access information about the performance of almost all components of ITS. It contains the equivalent of tens of thousands of pages of filtered ITS information organized, synthesized, and proof-read for objectivity, reliability, accuracy, and being up-to-date.

The information framework within the ITS Decision website is the first step towards development of an expert system that will enable users to accurately identify transportation problems by simply describing symptoms.

ITS Decision Web Site

ITS Decision Web Site

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SIBS Communications Cost Analyzer Computer Program

The Division of Innovation and Research funded the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) to assist with analyzing the Department's large and growing telecommunications costs. While the support of legacy technologies was found to contribute heavily to the high on-going costs for data communications, the most significant cause was discovered to be the inability to verify, audit, or assign local accountability for telecommunications services provided under the Calnet/SIBS state-wide contract. The Cal Poly team developed a computer application that reads monthly Calnet CD-based bills and stores them into a permanent database, generates reports that assign responsibility for charges down to the level of the individual users and managers, and provides a powerful suite of analysis tools to support the verification and auditing of all charges. The computer program is modular and adaptable to possible future changes in the format of Calnet or other telecommunications statements. In only the first few weeks of use, this program has helped to identify over $300,000 in possible overcharges for the Division of Traffic Operations.

SnailZWin

In recent years, soil-nailing techniques have been widely employed for many soil reinforcement projects, including temporary excavation, soil foundations beneath existing structures or abutments for bridge widening projects. Using soil-nailing techniques to reinforce earth walls saves time and money on highway construction projects. Over several years, Engineers at the Caltrans Division of Materials and Foundations developed a complex soil nailing program, referred to as SNAILZ. Initially, the program was written in DOS, which is a text-based operating system that is now rarely, if at all, used on desktop computers. Engineers had attempted to convert the program to operate in Windows with little success. Subsequently, DRI developed a Windows version of the program, referred to as SNailZWin. It supports all Windows environment: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Adding customer-requested enhancements have made the Windows version much more user friendly.

FHWA has published several technical documents, sponsored a demonstration project and provided assistance to numerous State transportation departments to assure economical design and quality construction of soil nail walls. As a result, more than 500 soil nail walls have been completed in the United States with an estimated $100 million savings in construction costs. The leading State in the use of soil nail walls in highway construction is California, where more than two million square feet of wall face have been built using the technology. California uses soil nailing for both permanent and temporary retaining walls. While Soil Nailing software can be purchased for thousands of dollars, Caltrans provides it to the public worldwide free of charge.

The program is available internationally as it can be accessed on the Geotechnical Services' Web site.

Soil-Nail Reinforced Wall

Soil-Nail Reinforced Wall

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Portable Field Mapping Systems for Faster Response After Landslides

Landslides can be difficult to predict and their effects can be significant. Responding to them quickly and effectively is key to minimizing the impact. An average of 200 landslides and 10 road closures occur per year along California highways that require clean up and/or mitigation.

Detailed mapping of landslides is an essential step in understanding slope failures and designing effective repairs. Maps are used to define cross-sections, which are then used in slope stability analysis software to design effective mitigation solutions.

The GeoResearch Group (GRG) of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) initiated a research project in which two, field mapping systems were acquired and evaluated. The two systems were evaluated over a 12 month period. The first system was based upon differential GPS (DGPS) and laser ranging hardware. The second system was based upon Real-Time-Kinematic GPS (RTK-GPS) hardware. Each system had unique advantages with regards to accuracy, user-interaction, system complexity, training requirements, and cost. Both field mapping systems were successfully deployed in over thirty landslide response situations.

One example was its use in response to a cut slope failure on State Route 20 in Colusa County in November 2002. Caltrans engineers used the field mapping system to quickly survey the slope, develop cross sections, perform slope stability analyses, and provide grading recommendations. One person completed the field mapping work, in less than a day, at a cost of $300.00, and a high quality topographic map was generated before leaving the site. In contrast, the conventional method involves a three man crew of surveyors, working a full day, and another technician, working 2 days, using tape measurements and compass bearings, to process the data to develop a map. Over a 3-year period, the mapping system would cost $180,000 compared to the conventional surveyors that would cost $900,000.

This project demonstrated the effectiveness of portable field mapping systems through successful test deployments on rapid response landslide projects. These types of systems are shown to significantly reduce the time and cost required for staff to deliver engineering solutions for maintenance and construction work, and ultimately reduce impacts to traffic.

Portable Mapping System

Portable Mapping System

Land Slide Project Area

Land Slide Project Area