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FHWA Administrator Cites ITS Applications In New Salt Lake City Traffic Operations Center

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Kenneth R. Wykle

FHWA Administrator Cites ITS Applications In New Salt Lake City Traffic Operations Center

Federal Highway Administration
April 27, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 27, 1999
Contact: Gail Shibley
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 29-99

Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle today said a traffic operations center that is opening in Salt Lake City is an ideal example of how Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology can be employed to improve safety and mobility in the area.

"President Clinton has set an agenda to strengthen the federal government’s role as a partner with state and local efforts to build livable communities for the 21st century," Wykle said. "In this case, ITS will provide Salt Lake City cost-effective increases in mobility and safety, and will help to reduce emissions, improve the movement of goods, and enhance the quality of travel."

The Utah Department of Transportation’s Traffic Operations Center (TOC) in Salt Lake City, built at a cost of $80 million of which nearly 25 percent was federal aid funds, uses advanced computer and communication technology to make traveling along the Wasatch Front safer and more efficient. Highway Patrol dispatchers also will be linked to transportation operators to better respond to incidents in the area, which will improve safety and mobility. In addition, transit is a partner in the planning of future ITS transportation services such as more advanced traveler information.

Utah DOT’s center will serve as a key link for the other two traffic operations centers in the Salt Lake City region that are run by the city and the county, making it possible to link freeway management operations from the Utah DOT center with traffic signals on the surface streets via integration with the other two centers. Recognizing the importance of integration and interoperable systems, Utah invested in the development of a national ITS architecture, or common framework, to connect the systems together.

Utah officials saved $7 million by obtaining computer software from the Georgia Department of Transportation that it used during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The center in Salt Lake City also was built using a new and innovative contracting technique called design-build, which helped to shorten development and construction time.

In conjunction with the opening of the center, Utah DOT also introduced the name and logo for Utah’s ITS system: CommuterLink. The new center will serve as the "nerve center" of CommuterLink and by 2001 the system will include more than 300 miles of fiber-optic cables, 550 traffic signals, 150 cameras, and 57 variable message signs (VMS) throughout the Salt Lake City region. CommuterLink will also provide commuters with timely and accessible information at home, at work, and on the road via radio, television, the Internet, and VMS signs.

Design-build techniques also have been used on the $1.6 billion reconstruction of Interstate 15, the main north-south arterial in the Salt Lake City area. Design-build, which is more common in the private sector, differs from traditional contracting in that it combines, rather than separates, responsibility for the design and the construction phases of a project. Since design and construction are performed through one procurement, construction can begin before all the design details are finalized.

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