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First place poster tests ITS effectiveness

A man stands next to a poster hung on the wall.

Andrew Robertson’s poster won first place at the 64th annual Traffic and Safety Conference. He evaluated how to determine the effectiveness of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in work zones.

A poster by a University of Missouri College of Engineering graduate student won first place at the 64th annual Traffic and Safety Conference held in May.

Andrew Robertson recently graduated with his master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. His poster, which was based on his graduate research and part of his master’s thesis, evaluated how to determine the effectiveness of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in work zones.

Robertson used 40 articles for the literature review on ITS in work zones and created three questions: When should ITS be applied? What are the goals of the agency deploying ITS? What equipment is needed to have comparative data between deployments?

“I asked these questions when looking at how ITS was applied in two work zones in the St. Louis area,” he said, indicating work zones last summer on the Interstate 70 Missouri River (Blanchette) Bridge and at Interstate 44 at Antire Road.

Because there was never a time when the work on the I-70 project occurred without the use of dynamic message signs (DMS), there was no control data to evaluate their effectiveness on motorists. To overcome this challenge, he first distributed a survey to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s St. Louis office, which had about 500 responses on the impact DMS makes in choosing alternative routes.

“According to the survey, 52 percent of St. Louis-area drivers use an alternative route because of DMS,” Robertson said. He used this value to simulate the traffic delay without the DMS.

A similar challenge occurred with the I-44 project since there was no time without the use of DMS. Unlike with I-70, the I-44 project had no alternative routes because of its rural location. Without alternative routes, using simulation for the evaluation was not recommended. With data from the I-44 project’s ITS contractor, Robertson analyzed speeds and accident rates instead of delay. He applied the costs and benefits of ITS to both work zones, estimating the difference in permanent and temporary ITS applications.

Robertson earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from MU in 2011. He conducted his graduate research under Assistant Professor Praveen Edara.

The Traffic and Safety Conference is co-sponsored by MU, MoDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Researchers from universities, consultants, state departments of transportation, local agencies and private
firms attended, giving presentations, speeches and hosting exhibits.