Choose proven technology and avoid changes to specifications.

Irvine, California's experience in implementing a field operational test of an integrated Advanced Transportation Management System.

January 2001
Irvine,California,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The arterial consultant clearly expended a great deal of effort on the FOT, and reported ultimately losing a considerable amount of money. The freeway consultant met contract deliverables by providing over thirty status reports and specification documents, many duplicative and irrelevant to the successful execution of the project. The following actions could have been implemented to help avoid some of these problems:
  • Do not depend on hardware that is still in development. Dependency of the 2070 controller, which had not yet been fully specified or delivered, could have been avoided. Depending on a controller that was still in development complicated the software porting tasks required of arterial consultant, and was cited by this consultant as the primary reason for delays. The City of Irvine wanted to use untested 2070 ATCs for a variety of reasons. First, it did not want to place both ATC and Multisonics controllers in one cabinet. Second, Caltrans was committed to providing support for 2070s in the future. During this key decision-making stage, the City consulted with Caltrans HQ and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), but excluded the other FOT partners, specifically the arterial consultant. In hindsight, one member of the arterial consultant firm believes that the consultant should have demanded using ATCs with specific firmware with which the consultant was familiar.

    SWARM lacked necessary documentation, and its failure management and malfunction scheme needed redesigning. SWARM and all pertinent reports were tied to the conclusion of the freeway consultant's ATMS project, which hindered the development of these additional systems. The freeway consultant was responsive to many requests, but refused all requests that "required a major redesign," or documentation. Major problems with the algorithm included the consultant requirement that SWARM be implemented one ramp at a time, and lack of permanent memory to store the setup parameters at each ramp meter. Turning SWARM off thus required that all ramp parameters be re-entered, a process for which no documentation existed. Caltrans interviewees do not believe the freeway consultant anticipated the extensive testing that District 12 performed on SWARM.

    Over three quarters of the interviewees believe this FOT was overly ambitious, including integration of too many untested new technologies, particularly the 2070 ATCs and SWARM. A majority of the interviewees wanted to prove the technologies separately in smaller pieces before bringing them all together. Ideally, separate field operational tests would evaluate the 2070 controllers, the MIST conversion, and the SWARM system.
  • Do not change specifications after the project has started. Problems with use of the 2070 ATCs began during Caltrans' tests. This prevented the City of Irvine from establishing a final prototype until early 1996. Caltrans HQ handled the 2070 hardware development, but continually changed its specifications. The first prototype from Caltrans HQ was provided over a year late. As a result, the arterial consultant's software coding efforts became extremely difficult. Device drivers posed a problem for both the arterial consultant and for LADOT. LADOT involvement began in 1994 when it developed software on its own for what eventually turned out to be the wrong hardware prototype. The need to reach agreement on data exchange between the traffic signal control program (TSCP) and OPAC slowed implementation of OPAC. As a result, LADOT changed its firmware to try accommodating OPAC's needs. Instead the change constrained optimum operations.
Several problems might have been avoided if hardware still under development was not chosen to be implemented, the contracting agency had a better understanding of project technology, and the technical specifications in the contract had been more precise. Through the implementation of these lessons, project efficiency may have been increased.

Lesson Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


Lessons Learned from the Irvine Integrated Freeway Ramp Metering/ Arterial Adaptive Signal Control Field Operational Test

Author: C. Arthur MacCarley, Stephen P. Mattingly, Michael G. McNally, James E. Moore, II,Daniel B. Mezger

Published By: Institute of Transportation Studies University of California

Source Date: January 2001

Other Reference Number: UCI-ITS-WP-00-16

URL: http://www.its.uci.edu/its/publications/papers/WP-00-16.pdf

Other Lessons From this Source

Lesson Contacts

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)

Lesson ID: 2006-00278