Metro Detroit Traffic Incident Management Workshop – March 2013

The Intelligent Transportation Society of Michigan (ITS-MI) sponsored the 8th Annual Workshop on Traffic Incident Management for Metro Detroit to promote partnerships among the various responders to traffic incidents. The workshop was held at the Michigan Department of Transportation Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center on March 7, 2013. Co-sponsors included the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, and Beaubien Engineering. This workshop was the eighth in a series of annual workshops to develop partnering relationships among those with an interest in safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents. It was the first time that this workshop was held at SEMTOC.

The program was intended to clarify the roles of the different responders to a traffic incident and to answer the question, “Who’s in charge?” The workshop identified the roles of the different responders so the participants could get a better understanding of who is in charge of what. The presenters included Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oladayo Akinyemi from the Michigan Department of Transportation Transportation Operations Center, Livonia Fire Chief Shadd Whitehead , Craig Shackleford from the Bloomfield Township Police Department, Ann McCaffery and Dan Hancock from the Michigan State Police, Annjanette Kremer Traffic Incident Management Engineer from the Michigan Department of Transportation, and Erin Nichole from WXYZ TV.

The 120 attendees at this workshop were treated to a continental breakfast and a lunch provided by the Intelligent Transportation Society of Michigan. Michigan Department of Transportation participants came from Lansing and the Bay and Metro Regions. Other participants at the conference represented Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Township, Canton Township, Chesterfield Township, Detroit, Grosse Ile, Grosse Pointe Woods, Federal Highway Administration, Harrison Township, Joe Ballor Towing, Macomb County, Madison Heights, Melvindale, Michigan State Police, Novi, Oakland County, Official Towing, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Roseville, SEMCOG, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Traffic Improvement Association, Troy, Van Buren Township, Wayne County, WXYZ, and Westshore Fire.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel explained the importance of bringing the county traffic cameras together with the sheriff dispatch and county emergency management. Putting all of these county operations into the same control room eliminates duplication of efforts and allows the sharing of resources to better serve the citizens of the county. Sterling Heights dispatch and Clinton dispatch are scheduled to move their operations to the new center.

Ann McCaffery from the Michigan State Police described the changes in the command structure with the Michigan State Police in the Metro Region. There are fewer buildings, and more of the State Police are assigned to mobile locations. Some are stationed with local government. Dan Hancock described the operation of the Detroit Regional Dispatch Center. The center is housed at the Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center control room adjacent to the MDOT Freeway Operations staff. It serves Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. The Computer Aided Dispatch system now operates statewide, and appropriate information is shared with the MDOT freeway operations staff. The Detroit Regional Dispatch Center currently receives approximately 78,000 emergency 911 calls per month.
Dayo Akinyemi from the MDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Center described the technologies available to assist with traffic incident management including the closed circuit television cameras and the dynamic message signs. The Freeway Courtesy Patrol operates out of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Center, and the Michigan State Police regional dispatch shares the center and has access to the more than 200 cameras on Metro Detroit Freeways to assist with their dispatch operations. The cameras are also available for local public safety answering points (PSAPs) to dispatch local police, fire, ambulance, and tow services. MDOT hosts responder safety workshops to promote awareness of the camera technology availability and best practices to keep first responders safe on the road.
Livonia Fire Chief Shadd Whitehead reviewed the I-696/Halsted Tanker Rollover incident that occurred in early 2012. In addition to being the Livonia Fire Chief, he serves as the Chief of Special Operations for Western Wayne County and oversees both the HMRT & USAR team operations. He explained that there are nine HAZMAT teams in Metro Detroit and that they are organized to share resources. The Tanker Rollover at i-696/Halsted involved a cargo of jet fuel that had to be emptied to avoid environmental damage. Because there was some delay in getting all the proper equipment on site there was some delay in opening the freeway.
Annjanette Kremer, MDOT Traffic Incident Management Engineer, described the coordinated training program that is intended to build a stronger responder corps for safer incident recovery. A new coordinated, multi-disciplinary training program developed through the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) is now available for all emergency responders and those supporting Traffic Incident Management Operations. The training puts police, firefighters, state and local departments of transportation, towing, medical personnel, and other incident responders on the same page, leading to faster, safer, integrated responder teams. Traffic Incident Management will be added to the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

Bloomfield Township Police Sergeant Craig Shackleford described his work with the Oakland County Medical Examiner to develop protocols for faster clearance of fatal crashes from freeways. The South Oakland County Crash Investigation Team which operates on I-75 has a goal of clearing fatal crashes within 2 hours, and cooperation among the three police agencies and the Medical Examiner has allowed them to achieve that goal on several occasions

Erin Nicole from WXYZ-TV Traffic spoke after lunch about her experiences as a traffic reporter. Traffic data comes from Metro Traffic, and MDOT cameras are vital to her traffic reporting. Incidents are not automatically put on the traffic system, and this allows for independent verification. After an incident is verified, it is activated manually and an icon specific to the incident is generated and placed at the correct location. Verification comes through internet partners including MDOT and law-enforcement agencies. Verification is assisted by the WXYZ assignment desk, producers, executive producers, and chopper as necessary to ensure accuracy. Not all of the “viewers” (customers) are watching. Some customers are on Twitter, Facebook, and If MDOT could provide volume data for each route it would assist in determining the impact an incident has on customers. She dreams of a system that takes communications with law enforcement to automatically generate a text/email directly to traffic reporters.

The goals of the workshop were met because the program highlighted the roles of the different responders to a traffic incident. Attendees at the workshop were asked to provide direction for the future activities to improve traffic incident management and regional transportation operations in Metro Detroit. The three activities receiving the most votes were:
• Develop alternative routes/signal timing plans to diverting traffic around incidents
• Educate the general public on both the Move Over and Steer It Clear It laws
• Host additional responder safety workshops and table top exercises