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An advanced traffic management system for Hampton Roads, Virginia
Published April 17, 1994 by Intelligent Transportation Systems in United States
In September of 1986, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) embarked on an ambitious project to develop an Advanced Traffic Management System for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia involving I-64 and Route 44, the Virginia Beach Toll Road. I-64 and Route 44 are two of the major freeway routes serving motorists travelling through Norfolk and Virginia Beach and were prone to significant congestion. With directional peak hour demand volumes ranging from 5,800 to 6,600 vph in the 3 lane sections and 4,200 vph in the 2 lane section, there was an urgent need for capacity improvements. Due to the presence of the Norfolk Naval Base, the world's largest naval base, there was a highly directional flow of traffic along I-64 ranging as high as 72 percent.
VDOT's solution was to construct a two-lane reversible roadway within the median of I-64. The reversible roadway was to be restricted to buses and other high-occupancy vehicles during the morning and afternoon peak periods and would serve as a means to increase the total person-capacity of the facility. VDOT contracted with the team of URS Consultants, Frederic R. Harris and Langley and McDonald to design the traffic management system. The intent of this system was not only to provide surveillance and automated control of the reversible roadway, but to serve as a regional traffic management system for the entire Hampton Roads area.
The Hampton Roads roadway network is highly dependent on a limited number of water crossings. An incident of any significance can have a tremendous impact on traffic throughout the area. The traffic management system for I- 64/Route 44 was designed to monitor and control the reversible roadway section along I-64, the concurrent flow HOV lanes on I-64, I-564, and Route 44, and to provide a central point of operations and control for the Hampton Roads area. The initial limits of the project are shown in the paper.
Data communication links to existing and planned urban traffic signal control centers within the region, and tunnel surveillance and control systems at the Downtown, Midtown, I-64 and I-664 tunnels were included in the system design. A regional point diversion signing system using variable message signs was designed to provide motorist information on traffic throughout the region and in particular on I-64, Route 44 and the tunnel facilities. The traffic management system includes loop detectors for traffic flow monitoring, incident detection and vehicle classification, closed circuit television surveillance, automatic gates and variable message signs for controlling access to the reversible roadway, variable message signs to control HOV and shoulder lane usage, variable message signs for motorist advisory and point diversion information, the provision to accommodate future ramp metering, and a traffic control center.
Due to funding and scheduling constraints, the completion of the traffic management system was delayed until three years after the reversible roadway was completed. An interim traffic management system was designed and is now in operation which utilizes cellular telephone communications to variable message signs and gate controllers to control the opening and closing of the reversible roadway. Bids for the final traffic management system have been received and the contractor is under way with the implementation of the system which is scheduled for completion in 1995