You are here

New Hampshire Smart Roads Project Gives a Peek at a Promising Future

By: 
Bill Cramer

Streamlined incident management. Improved work zone safety. Greater fuel efficiency, with real-time updates. Those are just some of the gains the New Hampshire Department of Transportation expects from a smart roads project that is just getting under way across five sectors and 39.5 miles of the state’s central turnpike.

Depending on work planning and local weather conditions, the installation is expected to take about 18 months.

The project, led by Tilson Technology of Portland, Maine, IBI Group's Boston Office, and New England-based MobilityTech, LLC is a snapshot of what roadways across the United States and around the world can expect to see, as technology-enabled transportation and connected and autonomous vehicles become basic standards for efficient mobility.

“It calls for design, planning, and installation of a comprehensive intelligent transportation system (ITS), including dynamic messaging signage, cameras, roadway detectors, and a complete wireless communications system linking back to the NHDOT Transportation Management Center,” explains Emily Graham, IBI Group’s Global Communications Coordinator. The technology “could potentially guide future self-driving cars with enhanced connectivity, while supporting anticipated growth in the region.”

Innovation Follows Demand

In a recent interview with Tolling Points, NHDOT Project Manager Susan Klasen explained the simple motivation behind the project: Where customer demand leads, the agency follows.

“This turnpike is a busy commuter route,” she said. “A few years ago, a study on the road looked at crashes, vehicle volumes, and interchanges. That resulted in a full build/deployment plan that included a number of ITS devices.”

NHDOT started work in the heavily-travelled Nashua area, then looked at how to integrate upcoming capital improvement projects along the corridor—from a tolling project at Bedford, to a series of road widening projects. Once the work was on the schedule, it made sense to build in the ITS devices.

IBI Group Project Manager and Associate Director James Sorensen stressed the importance of planning now with the future in mind. “The project isn’t just providing cameras and sensors,” he said. “The technology will allow NHDOT to do enhanced management of this corridor, with a communications backbone that sets the stage for future projects.”

Safety First

Klasen and MobilityTech Project Manager Mike Costa both pointed to roadway safety as the first and most important criterion for project design.

Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) along roadway corridors have proven themselves as an essential tool for dealing with incidents and congestion, Costa said, and New Hampshire already has a couple of corridors that have benefited from the technology. Klasen said the different components of the new system will all contribute to traffic incident management, making it easier to notify the driving public of unexpected crashes, roadway debris, or lane closures.

“For us, all of this is really focused on safety and mobility for our travellers,” she emphasized. “This system will help us maintain our performance measures and metrics and try to reduce those secondary incidents.”

Connect the dots between highway technology and driver safety. Register today for the IBTTA/TRB Joint Symposium on Managed Lanes and AET, July 16-18, 2017 in Dallas Texas.