Author By: Vincenzo S. Corazza, PE, FDOT D7; Carlton Urban, PE, PTOE, Lucent Group; Cathie McKenzie, Gannett Fleming; David Howell, HNTB; March 2018
The inaugural 10K Sunshine Skyway Bridge offers a unique case study in the successful deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) under Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O) strategies during a special event. This article will detail the strategies that the FDOT District 7 ITS Team utilized to facilitate the efficient flow of traffic while keeping the traveling public safe and informed during this planned event.
The Event was a 10K (6.2 mile) road race that spanned across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. 100% of all proceeds from the race benefited the Armed Forces Families Foundation1. The event required a closure of the northbound direction of I-275 across the Skyway Bridge. The event began at the south rest area and ended at the north rest area just south of the City of St. Petersburg. Traffic management deployment started prior to the race as participants gathered at Tropicana Field early race day morning. Racers were transported by bus to the start line. I-275 northbound was closed at 4:00 AM and re-opened to traffic at 10:00 AM.
The inaugural event capped and sold-out at 7,000 participants. The event marked the first time since 1987 that foot traffic was permitted on the bridge.
The Tampa Bay SunGuide Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC) made Event Management much more efficient having the ability to oversee the entire operations through regional Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV???s) and to communicate with all motorists. District Seven???s TSM&O Team collaborated with event organizers and other stakeholders to share availability of resources provided by the RTMC. For example, Public Service Announcements (PSA???s) regarding restriction(s) of parallel recreational activities
around the bridge to include fishing at the piers and picnicking at the rest areas were easily promulgated via Dynamic Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) and www.Florida511.com.
TSM&O deployments were used prior and during the event to assist motorists in preparing for the 6-hour closure of the northbound travel lanes. Strategies deployed for the 10K race and detour included:
??? Use of Dynamic Message Signs (DMS – freeways and arterials) to notify motorists of road closures and use of alternate routes
??? Use of Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) with flashing beacons to encourage motorists to ???tune-in??? to 1650 AM radio for information regarding event
??? Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras use to monitor the event
??? Additional event-dedicated operators at the RTMC
??? Use of www.Florida511.com for Public Service Announcements
The combined efforts of our team???s collaboration and TSM&O deployments kept motorists and citizens well informed of traffic conditions prior to; during; and after the event. Normal traffic operations resumed on schedule and without any issues.
Lessons learned through this event included leveraging our assets within the RTMC and TSMO team not only through collaboration amongst stakeholders but also advanced, technological resources ??? this allowed much more flexibility and efficiency to communicate optional or alternate routes to motorists using Interstates 4, 75, and 275. Detours and closures were typically performed through classic traffic control scenarios performed with barricades, lane closures and static signs.
The TSM&O team???s involvement optimized the use of prevailing advanced technology infrastructure ensuring information such as fishing pier and rest area closures and traffic re-routing much more efficient. Leveraging assets such as DMS???, HAR???s and Florida 511 PSAs make events such as this one so much more manageable.
The bottom line – with the use of TSM&O deployments, motorist safety is enhanced, emergency response time is shortened, driver delay and frustration are reduced, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, and a positive perception of all stakeholders is achieved. By deploying TSM&O strategies effectively to manage traffic; keep the traveling public safe and informed during planned events; FDOT District Seven achieved its mission to facilitate safe movement of people and goods.
Dan Buidens, D7 ITS Project Manager