– by Natalie Griffith, RTA Marketing and Policy Manager

Earlier this month, I attended an event on Advanced Technologies in Transportation at the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee.

The meeting focused on connected and automated transportation, highlighting current and developing technologies and implications for the future.

The Triangle is moving forward in several areas of transportation innovation and is well-positioned to implement emerging concepts for enhanced regional mobility.

Smart signals and big data

New signal technology is being explored as part of the future bus rapid transit corridors in Wake and Orange counties to provide transit signal priority to buses.

Nationally, federal and state transportation departments are leading a joint effort to expand the access to and the use of ongoing performance monitoring and automated data collection at traffic signals.

As we begin looking at making our streets more efficient for transit, we have the opportunity to consider automated traffic signal performance technology to improve operations with real-time data, and move closer to the potential for future connected, smart corridors.

Automated vehicles and advanced roadways

Today, most major manufacturers offer vehicles with driver assistance systems, like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, with an increasing number of vehicles featuring autopilot functions controlling both steering and speed.

The Triangle Expressway has been chosen by the USDOT as an automated vehicle proving ground—one of 10 locations in the U.S. selected to help create a community of practice to guide the integration of autonomous vehicles on our roadways.

Thanks to its physical and technological infrastructure, our advanced turnpike facility has the ability to test increasingly varying levels of automation and utilize the information to guide innovative applications across our region.

Rethinking space

Automation and other technological advancements are also disrupting our assumptions of land use and design.

In order to make transportation improvements now that won’t compromise our ability to leverage future innovations, we need to maximize our existing infrastructure and ensure new investments are flexible, upgradeable, or repurposeable.

Using shoulder lanes on the freeway and restriping lanes on streets are two ways our region can explore the highest and best use of the space we have today in a cost-effective manner, which will reserve our resources and our ability to nimbly respond to change.

The Regional Transportation Alliance business coalition is focused on elevating these and other innovative approaches to transportation to help identify solutions that will keep our region moving.

Natalie Griffith, RTA Marketing and Policy Manager