Metro Detroit Regional Transportation Operations – April 2019

Date: April 12, 2019                                                                                       

Time: 9:00 AM

Meeting Held: Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center (SEMTOC), Detroit, Michigan

Freeway Operations Update

Aaron Raymond noted that that new Freeway Courtesy Patrol trailer has been useful for lane closures because it provides immediate access to temporary traffic control devices.  MDOT will be adding a traffic signal engineer to the staff at SEMTOC to assist with arterial street operations.  MDOT will be experimenting with automated traffic incident detection as part of the I-94 reconstruction.  Cameras and radar will be part of the system to detect stalled vehicles.

Review of the March 7 Partnering Workshop in Oakland County.

Mike Loper from Oakland County Emergency Management reported on the workshop held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building on March 7.  One of his observations was that the room was too small to hold the people who came.  He felt that more than 100 would have attended if space were available.

 More than 100 participants attended the Partnering Workshop for Traffic Incident Management held at the Oakland County Executive Conference Center in Waterford, Michigan on March 7. The program started with a welcome from Oakland County Deputy County Executive Phil Bertolini and Deputy County Road Manager Gary Piotrowicz. Michigan Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer Tony Kratofil provided background information on how traffic incident management fits into the state emphasis on transportation systems management and operations.  The Michigan Department of Transportation has merged several areas (intelligent transportation systems, congestion mitigation and air quality, etc.) into a new Transportation Systems Management and Operations Division.  He noted that data is important for all first responders (EMS, police, fire, emergency management, road agencies).  The objective is to save lives more quickly through smart technology investments.    Performing incident response more collectively is the goal.  Partnerships and relationships are the key to success.

The cooperative relationships hoped for among the first responders were exemplified by the organizers of the event.  The Michigan Department of Transportation, the Oakland County Executive, the Road Commission for Oakland County, Oakland County Emergency Management, the Transportation Improvement Association, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of Michigan each had a role in bringing the event together.  

Chris Williams from SEMCOG reported on the evaluation of the workshop.

Railroad Safety for Police and First Responders

Curtis Stewart from Operation Lifesaver presented an overview of safety issues faced by police and other first responders at railroad crossing incidents.  He noted that trains cannot swerve – they can only follow the tracks. An average freight train can take more than a mile to stop.  If your vehicle gets stalled on the tracks, get out of the vehicle and run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45degree angle.

In case of an emergency, look for the blue sign that shows an emergency phone number.  Call the number and give the Department of Transportation crossing number found on the sign to identify your location.

Flashing red lights warn of an approaching train and must be treated as a stop sign.  At crossings with flashing lights and no gates you must stop.  Proceed only when it is safe to do so.  Trains always have the right-of-way.  Nearly half of all collisions occur at crossings equipped with active warning devices.  These are warning devices, not protective devices.  They are important tools for warning us of potential dangers, but they cannot eliminate collisions unless we heed the warning.

Regional Transportation Plan

Trevor Brydon from SEMCOG provided an overview of the recently adopted Long Range Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan, and he distributed copies of the plan. The plan now includes references to transportation operations as well as construction plans.  There is more emphasis on road management. Technology changes will have an impact of the system provided.  Incident management processes will identify problem areas.  One of the goals is for more travel time reliability.  More travel by bicycle and ridesharing is expected.  SEMCOG will be relying more on groups like this one to set policy objectives.

The plan includes a vision for Regional Concept for Transportation Operations.  The vision is for a reliable and managed transportation operations across jurisdictional geographic and modal boundaries for both routine traffic operations and traffic incident management that saves lives, time, and money for travelers.   The four objectives identified to improve transportation operations were:

  • Identify priority corridors for future investment
  • Retime traffic signals regularly
  • Clear incidents quickly and safely
  • Disseminate operations information