WYDOT receives grant for connected vehicle program on I-80

September 12, 2016

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has been awarded a grant from the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) to continue its innovative deployment of connected vehicle technology on the I-80 corridor.

The I-80 corridor in Wyoming is one of only three locations around the nation to participate in the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program. Interstate 80, which reaches its highest elevation at 8,640 feet, is a major corridor for east-west freight movement in the northwest part of the country. In the last year alone, I-80 has experienced more than 1,400 crashes with 13 fatalities and over 250 injury-related crashes. 

Connected Vehicle Technology enables trucks and WYDOT’s fleets to “talk” to each other and to “talk” to the roadside infrastructure. By enabling this connection, the pilot project will enable drivers to have 360-degree awareness of hazards and situations, including some they cannot see.

In practice, this means when trucks equipped with this technology approach slowed or stopped traffic, they can receive messages in their vehicles to give more reaction time and choices. Or if equipped vehicles pass roadside devices, drivers can receive messages alerting them to hazardous road conditions, crashes ahead, construction zone information, parking recommendations or other road and travel information. If the equipped vehicle is stranded, the vehicle can send out an emergency notification to the appropriate center for assistance. Fleet managers will have new and more accurate information to share with their truckers on I-80.

The goal is to improve the safety of the traveling public and reduce the incidents associated with adverse weather conditions frequently encountered on the corridor.

“WYDOT’s connected vehicle project presents a unique opportunity,” said Gregg Fredrick, WYDOT chief engineer. “Our project team, along with the private fleet partners and a multidisciplinary research team will collaborate on developing leading edge safety and mobility applications and prove the concept through real world testing along the I-80 corridor. This work will lay the foundation for much larger and exciting opportunities to enhance the safety and mobility on other rural roadways in Wyoming and throughout the United States.”

WYDOT successfully completed in August the development of the concept and plan for the pilot deployment of the connected-vehicle technology. The system is planned to be integrated within WYDOT’s existing Transportation Management Center (TMC), and WYDOT anticipates equipping 400 vehicles and installing close to 75 roadside units using this technology. Private fleet partner trucks will also equip their vehicles with the new technology.

WYDOT has already gained support from trucking industry leaders and safety advocates such as the Wyoming Trucking Association and the Governor’s Transportation Safety Coalition. WYDOT also obtained support from several private fleet partners interested in having their own trucks participate in the pilot. Additional partners and stakeholders will continue to be included in the project.

WYDOT will be supported by a multidisciplinary team including ICF International, National Center for Atmospheric Research, McFarland Management, Trihydro, University of Wyoming and Vital Assurance. WYDOT will also be supported by the vendors who will provide the hardware and software that will be needed for the pilot.

The federal government is providing about $4.4 million for the design and deployment phase of the project, and the combined cost of all three phases is projected to be about $5.7 million.

WYDOT will continue working closely with federal partners to develop and deliver a scalable and replicable pilot that is a model for rural states to take advantage of vehicle and infrastructure connectivity.