Traffic Research Laboratory (TReL) Assessment Summary Report
||May 24 –27, 2004
||Edward Seymour, Ph.D.
Associate Agency Director
||Paul Jovanis, Ph.D.,
EXPERT/PEER REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS:
|Joel Meena, P.E.
Assistant State Traffic Engineer
Principal Transportation Engineer,
City of Los Angeles
Barbara T. Harder
B.T. Harder, Inc
Overview of Traffic Research Laboratory
TReL Laboratory Manager 202-493-3266 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Traffic Research Laboratory (TReL) is a unique combination of advanced hardware and software systems that can be used by researchers and practicing traffic engineers to assess and evaluate the impact of various combinations of advanced technologies, strategies, and policies prior to field installation. State-of-the-art traffic research and development of these systems are conducted in the laboratory. The laboratory provides an experimental test bed and analysis tool-box to facilitate the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Research and Development (R&D) program in Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS).
TReL contains the visualization, simulation, and communication capabilities needed to effectively conduct traffic engineering R&D. TReL affords ATMS researchers the ability to conduct innovative real-time, hardware-in-the-loop evaluations and studies. Researchers at TReL develop and evaluate prototype adaptive traffic control systems that are being evaluated and demonstrated in field trials. TReL staff also developed and maintains the Traffic Software Integrated System (TSIS), a suite of traffic analysis tools used to assess the impact of transportation improvements to a network. The traffic simulation model CORSIM, contained within the TSIS suite, is the core of the studies and evaluations conducted at TReL. CORSIM simulates traffic and traffic control conditions on combined surface streets and freeway networks. It generates a wide range of operational and environmental measures of effectiveness to quantify the performance of a traffic network. Researchers at TReL utilize CORSIM to evaluate traditional and advanced traffic management systems and strategies, geometric design alternatives, and the effect of traffic incidents and events. They also refine, develop, and evaluate CORSIM algorithms. Other components of the TSIS suite, such as the traffic visualization tool TRAFVU and the graphical input processor TRAFED are also maintained at the laboratory.
TReL provides the simulation tools needed to test and evaluate real-time Adaptive Traffic Control Systems (ACS) algorithms under a wide range of geometric and traffic conditions. Results of the TReL evaluations have been used to select, refine and finalize the adaptive control strategies used in the field-testing and implementation of ACS.
Collectively, these activities and capabilities enable the ATMS R&D team to effectively conduct research and provide guidance for the integration and deployment of advanced traffic operations and management systems, as well as other Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components. Developing and maintaining the enabling technology is the key to the ATMS R&D program. The Traffic Research Laboratory makes it possible.
Key Strengths and Observations
- The TReL’s Team leader, Travel Management team, Raj Ghaman, has excellent ties to the transportation industry. These personal relationships help TReL identify research deployment opportunities with public agencies and private organizations.
- The TReL staff, including contract personnel, is highly skilled, dedicated and motivated.
- Many of the TReL research products have been well received and used by the industry (e.g., QuickZone, IDAS and CORSIM).
- The researcher community has judged a number of TReL products a success, and initial deployments are in process (RT-TRACS, DTA).
- ACS Lite is being developed in a nontraditional approach by partnering with industry for more rapid development. This strategy could become a model for future developments of this nature.
- There is management support for TReL within the TFHRC organization.
- The relationship between TReL and the Joint Program Office and Travel Management is more positive than it was 5 to 7 years ago.
- The construction and use of the TReL local intersection for research in safety and mobility is a constructive step in broadening the lab’s focus beyond a roadway efficiency emphasis.
Key Recommendations and Status of Current Activities
- Panel Recommendation: A TReL Strategic Plan should be developed
that clarifies the types of research activities the lab should pursue.
Action to be taken: Develop Strategic Plan for the TReL.
Status as of 12/02/05: Strategic Plan was completed February
Recommendation: Turner Fairbank and
the ITS Joint Program Office management should be partners with TReL leadership
and strong advocates in the development of the strategic plan.
Action to be taken: Form a Task Group with all the program areas to develop the Strategic
Plan for the TReL.
Status as of 12/02/05: A task force, which included the lab assessment review panel and the
Offices of Operations, Safety and the ITS JPO, was identified and used as a
resource for developing the Strategic Plan. Strategic Plan was completed and briefed to the JPO. Completed
Recommendation: Obtain additional
funding for the longer-term research program supported by the TReL.
Action to be taken: Within the Strategic Plan, identify
opportunities for the TReL to support longer- term research, for example the Tier
11 Mobility Applications for Vll initiative.
Status as of 12/02/05: The Strategic Plan focuses on areas where the unique capabilities of the TReL can support the ITS Tier I & II initiatives. The Strategic Plan and implementation matrix (see # 10) was circulated to the ITS Initiative leaders to get their input and help them understand where the Lab could support their programs and garner their support when it comes time for funding. Ongoing
- Panel Recommendation: The Strategic
Plan should clarify needed infrastructure investments to support future
activities appropriate to the mission of the TReL.
Action to be taken: Address facility improvements in the
Strategic Plan and include any infrastructure improvements as input to the
TFHRC Capital Improvements Plan.
Status as of 12/02/05: Upgrades to the Lab have begun. Surplus equipment has been removed from the lab and wiring upgrades are underway. Once the wiring is completed, the new furniture will be installed along with the upgraded network equipment. Work on physical upgrades to the lab is anticipated to be complete by the end of the 2nd quarter. March ‘2006, Target Completion Date
- Panel Recommendation: Develop a succession strategy for TReL
Action to be taken: Develop a succession plan for
the TReL Leadership as part of the RD&T workforce and succession planning.
Status as of
12/02/05: A lab manager has been identified who will serve as a backup for the Team Leader. Completed
- Panel Recommendation: TReL should
seek to leverage other facilities and projects in the definition, development
and execution of their research projects and deployment activities.
Action to be taken: a) Establish TReL.gov website and setup web
server in the lab to provide an electronic connection to other research
facilities and make the TReL’s assets available to external researchers. b)
Explore opportunities to conduct joint research as recommended by this lab
Status as of
12/02/05: A VPN has been set up to
allow the researchers at NOAA’s Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) to access the
data from the Weather Station and use it to feed the national weather
models. Additional VPN’s will be set up
as needed as other joint research projects come online. Establishing a TReL website will be pursued
once the infrastructure upgrades are made and the data and systems to be shared
are identified. Ongoing
Recommendation: Incorporate other
relevant ITS technologies into the TReL program to expand its focus beyond
roadway control technologies, especially traffic signals. This issue should be addressed in the TReL
Action to be taken: Work with Enabling Technologies team to
enhance the role of the lab in the Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance
research. Involve as many of the other
ITS Tier 1 initiatives as possible.
Status as of 12/02/05: The next step is to design and create the connections at both ends of the fiber optic line to allow traffic signal
controllers set up in the TReL to directly control the intelligent
intersection. This should be able to be
completed by the end of the year. Sept ‘2006, Target Completion Date
- Panel Recommendation: Clearly identify and communicate the role of CORSIM in future TReL activities.
Action to be taken: a) Communicates status of CORSIM to user
community. b) Address the need and role
for simulation / CORSIM in the TReL Strategic Plan.
Status as of
final release of TSIS is in Beta testing at the Lab and it is anticipated that
it will be released early next year. An
announcement was made at the modeler’s workshop in September that this would be
the last release by FHWA and the software would be turned over to McTrans for
further development and release as a commercial product. February ‘2006, Target Completion Date
- Panel Recommendation: TReL should
engage stakeholders throughout all its processes in a regular, sustained
Action to be taken: Involved and enhance involvement of stakeholders in the development of TReL roadmaps and research programs and engage different
stakeholders. Post current projects and
results on TReL gov website (to be established above).
Status as of 12/02/05: Involved the peer panel and TReL stakeholders
in the development of the Strategic Plan. We plan to continue engaging our stakeholders and fellow researchers
through the ITS Tier I initiatives and the reoccurring lab assessment process. Ongoing
- Panel Recommendation: Better define
the role of the TReL in regard to providing technical support, and conducting
both applied research and long-term high-risk research.
Action to be taken: Address the TReL’s role in providing
technical support conducting applied research, conducting long-term high-risk
research in the Strategic Plan.
Status as of 12/02/05: An implementation matrix has been developed
for the TReL Strategic Plan. We are
working with Operations, the JPO and Mitretek to match up the TReL resources
with the roadmaps. February ‘2006, Target Completion Date
- Panel Recommendation: Provide opportunities for customers
(including the Panel members) to participate in the development of the
Strategic Plan and serve in an advisory capacity.
Action to be taken: Request panel input to draft of the Strategic Plan.
Status as of 12/02/05: The Strategic Plan was circulated to
Operations / JPO and peer panel members and their comments have been
All Key Recommendations and Activities were completed December 2, 2005.