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Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Development

What is Intelligent Transportation Systems?
Intelligent Transportation Systems represents a broad range of solutions aimed at taking the transportation infrastructure currently in place and striving to make it more effective and efficient through the dissemination of information to the general public using the roadways throughout our region.  

The most common applications are the coordination of interconnected signals in cities and towns, changeable message signs along the roadway informing the traveling public of pending roadway delays or detours as a result of natural disasters, weather or construction.  Less common, yet equally functional applications, are closed circuit television to monitor flow at intersections, automatic vehicle location for transit vehicles and signal pre-emption for emergency vehicles.  These are just a few of the many applications being pursued all over the country.

What is required of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) like BCAG?
In the mid to late 1980's, the federal government began to realize that the generated funds available to invest in upgrading the infrastructure were beginning to lag behind the cost of the needed improvements nationwide. Recognizing that the nation's needs were outpacing the ability to fund those needs, Congress legislated the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Architecture and Standards; Final Rule in 1991 and added to/revised Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations through Parts 655 and 940. This legislated action mandated the need to address how the infrastructure could be improved without having to bear the cost of total replacement. In California, this responsibility was delegated to the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). For Butte County, BCAG is the MPO in charge of developing the plan to meet this legislated mandate.

The final rule states that all agencies like BCAG must have an Intelligent Transportation Systems Regional Architecture and Strategic Deployment Plan (SDP) in place by April of 2005.  Butte, Glenn and Colusa counties are the three remaining counties in California that do not currently have a conforming ITS-SDP in place.  As such, BCAG has assumed the lead role for the development of the (ITS-SDP), with the objective of meeting the minimum requirements of 23 CFR Parts 655 and 940 for Butte, Glenn and Colusa counties.

What is the current status of the ITS-SDP development?
In the Fall of 2003, the three counties, FHWA and Caltrans met and established the beginning of a working group and made an informal commitment to work together as a 3-county partnership. The working group will serve as the basis for forming the Project Development Team (PDT) that will be tasked to guide the development of the ITS-SDP.
 
In January 2004, BCAG applied for an FHWA Partnership Planning Grant through Caltrans to request funding participation in the development of the proposed ITS Plan.  In July of 2004, BCAG hired Iteris Consultants of Anaheim, CA to develop the ITS-SDP for what's being titled the North Valley Regional ITS Architecture.

Two public workshops, one in Chico on August 19th and one in Willows on November 17th, were held to get input from the public and service providers on types of technologies that are currently in place and to garner an understanding of what types of technologies are needed.

Following the compilation of comments received from Tier 1 and Tier 2 stakeholders, the public and the PDT, The North Valley ITS Services, Market Packages, Interconnects and Information Flows and Appendix, has been developed.  The purpose of this report is to explain what types of services are existing, what may be needed or is planned, who possesses or delivers those services, and whom the services are intended to benefit.

Following the last public meeting on February 3rd, 2005, in the City of Chico Council Chambers the Final Report was drafted and is expected to be completed by the end of April 2005.  The last step in the process is for the Final Report to gain acceptance from the three county regions of Butte, Glenn and Colusa Counties.  For Butte County, the Final Report will be approved by the Butte County Association of Governments Board of Directors.  For Glenn and Colusa Counties, the Final Report will be approved by the multi-jurisdictional Transportation Commissions for the respective regions.

North Valley ITS Document Information
Current documentation for the plan can be viewed at http://www.iteris.com/northvalleyits. Iteris Inc., is currently hosting all the documentation being developed for the ITS-SDP. This website contains information on project schedule, stakeholders, types of technologies and contact information.

Public Participation

The success of ITS in Butte County and adjacent regions is largely dependent upon the participation of the public.  Because it is the general public that stands to benefit the most from the application of these strategies, we are interested in hearing from you.  If you have any questions or comments that can help us satisfy our requirement to keep the public apprised of our progress, please call or email Andy Newsum, BCAG Project Manager, at (530) 879-2468.

There is a maintenance requirement for the continued application of ITS in the three county region.  BCAG has assumed the lead role in assuring that the ITS plan is maintained and updated on a three year interval which coincides with the required update timeline for a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).  BCAG invites the public to offer input over time at the above noted email address for Andy Newsum.

FHWA Links
The Federal Highway Administration has invested a significant amount of resources into developing documents that are geared to explain what ITS is and the types of projects that fall under the definition of ITS.  The ITS Joint Program Office Website is the main starting point for everything one may want to know about ITS.

Another document available online is the Intelligent Transportation Systems Benefits and Costs.  This document has a good Executive Summary that generally explains the common types of technologies as well as some of the benefits and costs of those technologies.  Not all of these technologies are those that would necessarily be included in the North Valley Regional Architecture Plan.

Also available for online viewing is the ITS/Operations Resource Guide.  This document contains all of the documents, videos, websites, training courses, software tools and points of contact related to innovative transportation operations strategies, such as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). This document may not be quite as useful to the general public. However, for our member jurisdictions, it may be a useful guide for strategies that can be pursued within rural and urban areas of Butte County.