Our Great Lakes Megaregion has a population of nearly 70 million across the GLRTOC member areas, and the importance of the cross border economy of the Chicago and Upper Midwest areas cannot be overstated. On August 28-29, 2017, public and private stakeholders across seven of our states and from the USDOT held a workshop focusing on multimodal freight transportation on a megaregion level.
For background, step through this slide deck (4.4mb pdf) from FHWA on the topic of megaregions, presented March 2017 at the National Association of Counties Transportation Peer Exchange. It helps define megaregions from the FHWA perspective, implications for transportation, and the critical connection to freight movement and local economies.
The workshop agenda (0.3mb pdf) provides an excellent summary of the workshop, the very outcome-oriented topics the group tackled, and the wealth of expertise brought by the diverse participants.
A well-crafted white paper prepared in conjunction with the workshop is a must-read for anybody working on transportation and freight movement in the Midwest. View or download it here:
January 19, 2017. Three of GLRTOC’s member states – Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin – receive a new USDOT designation as autonomous vehicle (AV) proving grounds. This brings a great deal of additional attention to the Great Lakes Megaregion for this transformative technology. From the USDOT notice:
U.S. Department of Transportation Designates 10 Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds to Encourage Testing of New Technologies
The USDOT has designated 10 proving ground pilot sites to encourage testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies. These proving ground designations will foster innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity, and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities.
The proving grounds will also provide critical insights into optimal big data usage through automated vehicle testing and will serve as a foundation for building a community of practice around automated vehicle research.
The designees were selected from a competitive group of over 60 applicants.
City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run
Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station
In October 2015 the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) received a $25 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to deploy a Regional Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS). The MAASTO TPIMS will be a dynamic, real-time regional truck parking availability or notification system developed by eight MAASTO states: Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. This collaboration effort has been put into place because all parties understand the regional nature of long-haul trucking and the desperate need for smarter truck parking. While coming together for a unified purpose, the MAASTO TPIMS Partnership will develop standard sign designs and other notification methods to be used along with a common software Application Program Interface (API), to share availability data with each other and external parties. Ultimately, this system will provide for information dissemination to enable seamless system use across state lines.
The project team has just completed preliminary engineering (30% design) activities associated with the regional deployment including: concept of operations, system requirements, standard design details, and standard site layouts. Each state is now in the process of moving forward with completing its state-specific design and delivery activities.
For more information, visit TrucksParkHere.com, and be sure to check out their six-minute video!
To reduce delays at U.S. border crossings in New York, Michigan and Washington, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration today awarded $256,470 for the use of innovative new technology that will provide information on wait times at border crossings and help manage delay by giving truckers advance notice of crossing conditions.
“We are working towards creative solutions to border congestion, that can stifle commerce and negatively impact our economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Accurate travel information will be a powerful tool in improving the flow of goods across these borders – supporting the freight economy, including U.S. businesses that rely on efficient trade.”
FHWA’s Border Wait Time Deployment Initiative is designed to accelerate the adoption of innovative technology, such as sensors, to measure delay and wait times at land border ports of entry. The program supports the collection and dissemination of real-time traveler information to improve the reliability of goods movement across these borders.
Under the initiative, FHWA will help expand the successful efforts at the Lewiston-Queenston and Peace Bridges which span the U.S./Canada border by providing $100,000 to the New York State Department of Transportation for its Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge.
FHWA will also fund technology at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Crossing with a $95,920 grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation. Building on the success of the Evergreen State’s North Cascades Gateway, FHWA will award $60,550 to the Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) in Whatcom County, Wash., for the Booth Integration project. All of these research projects will use dynamic message signs and advance traveler information systems to convey the border wait times.
“These grants present an opportunity to improve freight movement and productivity by allowing businesses to transport their goods across the border more efficiently,” FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau said. “Our nation needs a strong freight system to compete in the global economy and meet the needs of consumers and industry.”
The projects are in line with the U.S. and Canada “Beyond the Border” initiative to improve the flow of goods and services between the two countries. In recent years, trucker wait time and unexpected delays have been identified as an impediment to the free flow across the border, and the FHWA has undertaken several research initiatives aimed at measuring border delays at major land-border crossings. According to the Department’s draft report, Beyond Traffic, approximately 10 million trucks moved more than 13 billion tons of freight across America’s highways in 2012. It is estimated that by 2040, freight volume will grow to 29 billion tons—an increase of 45 percent. Assuming Canada and Mexico continue to lead the list of US trading partners, much of this growth will impact US border crossings.