TAMPA, FLA. — The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) connected vehicles program is now designing and deploying technology that will test its ability to reduce traffic congestion, keep public transit moving, prevent vehicle accidents and improve pedestrian safety.
Tampa was one of three cites that won contracts with the Federal Highway Administration in 2015 for connected vehicles pilot deployments. With $17 million in federal funds, and nearly $4 million in local matching funds, THEA will install and test 40 roadside sensors on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway Reversible Express Lanes, Meridian Avenue, Channelside Drive and other downtown roadways with considerable rush-hour traffic. Along with Siemens and other partners, the authority will also install on-board sensors to 10 city buses, 10 streetcar trolley cars and 1,500 privately owned vehicles over the next year.
According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the sensor-based system will alert drivers about upcoming red lights, dangerous curves or if they are driving the wrong direction on a one-way road. The system will also give connected public transit vehicles priority over other vehicles at traffic signals to cut down on public transit delays, according to a Route Fifty.
Connected vehicles systems can communicate with new and older automobiles through satellite radios or smartphone applications. The Siemens sensors can also warn public bus operators when a pedestrian steps into their path on the road.
“In our opinion, Siemens presence on our team and the commitment they showed to the Tampa project while helping to prepare the proposal was instrumental to THEA being selected,” said Joe Waggoner, executive director of THEA.
After nearly a year of planning, this is the time to see if the connected vehicles’ rubber hits the proverbial road.
That’s a bigger part of these pilot deployments than people think about, the ability to measure the effects that these types of treatments have on the road network,” said Robert Frey, THEA planning director. “Everything we’re using is already basically on the market. The pilot deployment is to see what it does.”