Federal Register: January 14, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 9)
DOCID: fr14ja09-23 FR Doc E9-392
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
CFR Citation: 23 CFR Part 511
Docket ID: [FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2006-24219]
RIN ID: RIN 2125-AF19
NOTICE: PROPOSED RULES
DOCUMENT ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM); request for comments.
Real-Time System Management Information Program
DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 14, 2009. Late- filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.
Section 1201 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEALU) requires the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to establish a RealTime System Management Information Program that provides, in all States, the capability to monitor, in realtime, the traffic and travel conditions of the major highways of the United States and to share that data with State and local governments and with the traveling public. This proposed rule would establish minimum parameters and requirements for States to make available and share traffic and travel conditions information via realtime information programs.
Real-Time System Management Information Program
Electronic Access and Filing
You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines are available under the help section of the Web site. The Federal eRulemaking portal is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Please follow the instructions. An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded by accessing the Office of the Federal Register's home page at http://www.archives.gov or the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara. A Brief Description of the Proposed Rule
The FHWA proposes to require that each State establish a realtime information program that would provide traffic and travel conditions reporting and support other efforts related to congestion relief. The provision of traffic and travel conditions reporting to other agencies and to travelers would enable agencies to communicate the operational characteristics within their State or metropolitan area. Such information would disclose the presence and severity of congestion and other travel impedances that limit traveler mobility and the efficient movement of goods.
These proposed regulations would not impose any requirement for a State to apply any particular technology, any particular technology dependent application, or any particular business approach for establishing a realtime information program. States and other public agencies instead would be encouraged to consider any salient technology, technologydependent application, and business approach options that yield information products consistent with the requirements set forth in this proposed rule. States will be encouraged to work with value added information providers to establish realtime information programs. Value added information providers presently and in the future will create information products for commercial use, for sale to a customer base, or for other commercial enterprise purposes. Based upon this proposed rule, such products could be derived from information from public sector sources in addition to the private sector's own capabilities for creating information content.
The FHWA proposes to require realtime information programs to be capable of delivering traffic and travel conditions on: traffic incidents that block roadway travel, roadway weather conditions, and construction activities affecting travel conditions. Those realtime information programs that deliver traffic and travel conditions for Metropolitan Areas exceeding a population of 1 million inhabitants also would provide travel times for highway segments.
The FHWA proposes to require general uniformity among the realtime
information programs to ensure consistent service to travelers and to
other agencies. The table below identifies the proposed traffic and travel condition categories and characteristics:
Timeliness for delivery
Non Category of information Metropolitan metropolitan Availability Accuracy (in areas (in areas (in (in percent) percent) minutes) minutes) Construction activities:
Implementing or removing lane closures...... 10 20 90 85
Roadway or lane blocking traffic incident 10 20 90 85 information................................
Roadway weather observation updates......... 20 20 90 85
Travel time along highway segments.......... 10 NA 90 85
Further details are provided in this notice on how the FHWA determined these categories of information, the timeliness for delivery, availability, and accuracy in the SectionbySection description. Readers of this notice are directed to the description for Section 511.309, ``Provisions for traffic and travel conditions reporting'' for the details.
The FHWA proposes to require that realtime information programs be established in two stages: First for reporting traffic and travel conditions along all Interstate highways in each State; second for reporting traffic and travel conditions along other Metropolitan Area, nonInterstate highways that sustain local mobility and that serve as diversion routes that alleviate congested locations.
The FHWA proposes that the establishment of the realtime information programs for reporting traffic and travel conditions along all Interstate highways in each State should be completed within two years. Therefore, the FHWA proposes to require a completion date of two years after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register to establish the realtime information program for traffic and travel conditions reporting on all Interstate highways.
Finally, the FHWA proposes to require that the establishment of the realtime information programs for reporting traffic and travel conditions along Metropolitan Area, nonInterstate highways be completed within 4 years of the date the final rule is published in the Federal Register. The selection of nonInterstate highways to be covered in a realtime information program will depend on factors determined by the local partners. The FHWA proposes to encourage selection criteria such as recurring or frequent congestion, utility for use as a diversion route, and susceptibility for other mobility and safety limiting impacts.
The FHWA requests comment on the proposed approach summarized above and described in detail below to monitor traffic and travel conditions in realtime, and on how such monitoring can make the most cost effective use of the limited resources available to the States. Further, the FHWA requests comment on the consideration, options, and use of information to account for the analysis of the balance between the benefits and cost of the proposed rule, as described in detail in the ``Regulatory Cost Analysis of Proposed Rulemaking'', available in the docket.
This proposed rule will be subject to the provisions set forth in Sec. 1.36 of Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations which states, ``[i]f the Administrator determines that a State has violated or failed to comply with the Federal laws or the regulations in this part with respect to a project, he may withhold payment to the State of Federal funds on account of such project, withhold approval of further projects in the State, and take such other action that he deems appropriate under the circumstances, until compliance or remedial action has been accomplished by the State to the satisfaction of the Administrator.'' Background
In May 2006, the Department announced its National Strategy to
Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network (the Congestion
Relief Initiative), a bold and comprehensive national program to reduce
congestion on the Nation's roads, rails, runways, and waterways.\1\ The
FHWA is concentrating on congestion relief by promoting a variety of
technology and techniques, including: Tolling and Pricing; Public and
Private Partnerships; RealTime Traveler Information; Traffic Incident
Management; Work Zone Mobility; and, Traffic Signal Timing. These
efforts by the FHWA address many of the root causes of recurring and nonrecurring congestion.
\1\ Speaking before the National Retail Federation's annual conference on May 16, 2006, in Washington, D.C., former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta unveiled a new plan to reduce congestion plaguing America's roads, rail, and airports. The National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network includes a number of initiatives designed to reduce transportation congestion. The transcript of these remarks is available at the following URL: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/ minetasp051606.htm.
At its most fundamental level, highway congestion is caused by the failure to develop mechanisms to efficiently manage use of existing capacity and expand capacity in locations where the benefits are the greatest. The ever increasing demands for the use of the nation's highways are severely imbalanced with the level of funding provided to maintain and construct new highways. For highway users, the phenomenon of demand outstripping supply ultimately manifests a cost upon individual travelers who have to bear increasing congestion. The price of highway travel (gas taxes, registration fees, etc.) currently bears little or no relationship to the cost of congestion. Put differently, the average rush hour driver pays out of pocket costs that do not reflect the true costs of the travel. As a result, the network gets swamped, vehicle throughput collapses, and the cost of congestion to all users grows rapidly.
In more immediate terms, congestion is caused by a number of additional factors, including traffic incidents, special events, weather, work zones, and poor signal timing. Various research studies conducted by the FHWA indicate that half of recurring congestion occurs because of bottlenecks, poor signal timing, and special events. The remainder is divided among nonrecurring phenomena such as work zones, traffic incidents, and bad weather.
The purpose of the RealTime System Management Information Program
is to provide congestion relief by stimulating cooperation among State
Departments of Transportation, other responsible agencies, and
commercial entities to widen the accessibility of traffic and travel
conditions information via realtime information programs. Travelers
and transportation agencies increasingly will depend on traffic and
travel conditions information, delivered by combinations of public and private
information providers, to manage congestion.\2\
\2\ Additional discussion on the extensibility of traffic and travel conditions information is provided in Closing the Data Gap: Guidelines for Quality Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) Data available at the following URL: http:// www.itsdocs.fhwa.dot.gov//JPODOCS/REPT_MIS/13580.html
The value for a realtime information program to travelers is experienced at a personal level. Traffic and travel conditions information is ``decisionquality'' information that allows travelers to choose the most efficient mode, time of departure, and route to their final destination. This information should be easily accessed at a low cost in order to be useful to the average traveler. Timely and detailed information about traffic incidents, weather conditions, construction activities, and special events aid in improving travel time predictability, better choices, and reduced congestion.
The value for a realtime information program to transportation
agencies would be greater control of systemwide transportation assets.
Information collection and dissemination are critical for enabling
public agencies to provide for efficient interstate movement of goods
and to reduce the level of congestion commonly experienced in
metropolitan areas. Thus, the minimum set of information that would be required in this proposed rule include:
This proposed rule results from the efforts of private industry, elected officials, and public officials to reduce congestion and the burden it places on travelers. The 109th Congress recognized the collaborative efforts to reduce congestion and directed the FHWA to provide congestion relief to American travelers.
Under the heading of ``Congestion Relief,'' section 1201 of
SAFETEALU (Pub. L. 10959, 119 Stat. 1144, Aug. 10, 2005) requires the
Secretary of Transportation to establish a RealTime System Management
Information Program to provide, in all States, the capability to
monitor, in realtime, the traffic and travel conditions of the major
highways of the United States and to share that information to improve
the security of the surface transportation system, to address
congestion problems, to support improved response to weather events and
surface transportation incidents, and to facilitate national and
regional highway traveler information. The purposes of the RealTime System Management Information Program are to:
(1) Establish, in all States, a system of basic realtime information for managing and operating the surface transportation system;
(2) Identify longer range realtime highway and transit monitoring needs and develop plans and strategies for meeting such needs; and (3) Provide the capability and means to share that data with State and local governments and the traveling public.
Section 1201(c)(1) of SAFTEALU states that as State and local governments develop or update regional intelligent transportation system (ITS) architectures, described in 23 CFR 940.9, such governments shall explicitly address realtime highway and transit information needs and the systems needed to meet such needs, including addressing coverage, monitoring systems, data fusion and archiving, and methods of exchanging or sharing highway and transit information. The FHWA envisions that States carrying out updates of regional ITS architectures would consider broadening the geographic coverage area for gathering and reporting traffic and travel conditions.
This NPRM does not pertain to subsections 1201(b) or 1201(c)(2) of the SAFETEALU, which address the establishment of data exchange formats. Data exchange formats shall be established to ensure that the data provided by highway and transit monitoring systems may be exchanged readily among State and local governments and information applications that communicate to the traveling public. The FHWA established these data exchange formats to satisfy the 2year statutory deadline defined by SAFETEALU to complete this task. The SAFETEALU legislation establishes that States shall incorporate the data exchange formats established by the Secretary. The FHWA published data exchange formats and a technical memorandum describing the implementation and use of the data exchange formats in the Federal Register on October 15, 2007 (72 FR 58347) and on the FHWA Office of Operations Web site, available at URL: http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov. May 2006 Request for Information
On May 4, 2006, the FHWA published a notice in the Federal Register
(71 FR 26399) outlining some proposed preliminary program parameters
and seeking public comments on the proposed description of the Real
time System Management Information Program, including its outcome
goals, definitions for various program parameters, and the current
status of related activities in the States. The comments submitted in
response to this notice were used to develop this proposed
rulemaking.\3\ We received a total of 44 comments to the docket, of
which 22 of the submissions were from State Departments of Transportation (DOT's). Responses also were received from
representatives of the private sector and national associations. \3\ All comments received via the U.S. DOT Docket Management System or the Federal eRulemaking portal can be viewed at http:// www.regulations.gov. The submitted comments can be retrieved via Docket No. 24219.
Many of the State DOT's that responded identified that they were capable of achieving many of the goals outlined in the notice by 2009, provided that there would be a phased approach for achieving key milestones. The public sector responses often cited funding limitations, budget and planning cycles, and the lack of data collection infrastructure as obstacles to fully achieving all of the program goals by a 2009 date. All of the private sector responses indicated that all of the stated objectives could be achieved by 2009 and perhaps sooner.
The private sector respondents generally believed that having the information on nearly every road, at least in urban areas, was a reasonable goal. Many State and local public sector respondents did support reporting of conditions along arterial highways, but preferred to define which ones locally. Respondents generally noted that rural and urban areas might have different needs for coverage. Several rural States noted that monitoring the National Highway System plus other limited access roadways would overwhelm their strained resources and would not necessarily improve the quality of the traffic and travel conditions reporting. One private sector respondent suggested using the same definition of ``major highway'' as the mapping industry.
There was general support for including travel times and speeds, as
well as extent and degree of congested conditions in urban areas.
Several rural States objected to the congestion requirement. Several
States suggested adding expected duration for incidents, scheduled
events, Homeland Security emergency notifications, maintenance work
zones as well as construction work zones, hurricane evacuation, and terrorist acts. There was strong and
articulate opposition from States about including information on public transportation disruptions.
There was general support for the proposed definition of ``real time'' for congestion, travel time, and lane blockage information. There was no consensus among the respondents concerning the proposed thresholds for timeliness and accuracy: Private sector respondents commonly suggested more stringent thresholds, some State agencies suggested weaker thresholds; some overall respondents agreed with the thresholds identified in the notice. Several respondents, including State DOTs, noted that a more stringent timeliness threshold (5 minutes or less) would be more useful to the public. A few State agencies and private sector organizations noted that they were already meeting and exceeding these proposed threshold requirements. A few States objected to the timeliness threshold requirements as inappropriate for rural areas. Several respondents noted that the timeliness threshold requirements imply either a fully automated system or a 24/7 staff, which is likely not available immediately in all areas of the country.
Overall the responses reflected reasonable support for the proposed scope of the program, with the acknowledgement that there were dissenting opinions on some details. Nearly all the respondents anticipated that the FHWA would propose a rule to establish a program to advance the level of traffic and travel conditions reporting available today. The FHWA is proposing this NPRM to exercise the authority established by Congress to provide for congestion relief and to support the Department's Congestion Relief Initiative. This proposed rule enables various methods for mitigating the effects of recurring and nonrecurring congestion by assisting agencies in providing 511 telephonebased traveler information; enhancing traffic incident management; improving work zone mobility; updating and coordinating traffic signal timing; and providing localized bottleneck relief.\4\ \4\ Additional information about FHWA's focus on congestion is available at the following URL: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/congestion/ toolbox/index.htm.
The comments that were received in the docket contributed substantially to this proposed rule in two key areas: program phasing and content requirements. The preference for a phased approach in achieving the program implementation milestones led to the two distinct dates proposed for establishing a realtime information program: One deployment for all Interstates 2 years after the date the final rule is published in the Federal Register, the other for nonInterstate highways in metropolitan areas by 4 years from the date the final rule is published in the Federal Register. The FHWA viewed that the combined efforts of the public and private sectors could successfully achieve these proposed milestones. The FHWA noted the interest of many public sector respondents about their preference to select the routes for traffic and travel conditions reporting.
There was wide variability in the content requirements for traffic and travel conditions reporting, especially in selecting a threshold for disseminating information after it has been collected. The FHWA considered the responses in parallel with the types of information that are needed to provide congestion relief. Based on the comments, the focus of the information to be reported centered on nonrecurrent events like construction/maintenance; road closures and major delays; major special events; and, weather and road surface conditions.\5\ \5\ These types of content are consistent with those documented in Implementation and Operational Guidelines for 511 Services, v.3.0 (2005), available at the following URL: http://www.deploy511.org/ implementationguide.htm. The guidelines were prepared by the 511 Deployment Coalition of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), ITS America, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the USDOT to promote service consistency to help achieve a nationwide 511 system. Transportation System Operations Enhancements Enabled by the Proposed Rule
A critical factor in the ability of transportation managers to respond effectively to a wide variety of events and situations is the availability of information that conveys the operating status of transportation facilities in realtime. Through the availability of information that improves upon today's geographic coverage, data accessibility, accuracy, and availability, transportation system operators would have the tools necessary to reduce congestion, facilitate incident management, and improve management of
transportation systems assets.
Realtime information programs are proposed to be established so
that States easily can exchange information on the realtime
operational status of the transportation network with other States and
with the private sector, valueadded information market.\6\ This
cooperation and sharing of information could stimulate the
dissemination of traffic and travel conditions that include Web or
wireless access to routespecific travel time and toll information;
route planning assistance using historical records of congestion by
time of day; and communications technologies that gather traffic and
incidentrelated data from a sample of vehicles traveling on a roadway
and then publishing that information to travelers via mobile phones,
personal digital assistants (PDAs), incar units, or dynamic message signs.
\6\ The valueadded information market creates products intended for commercial use, for sale to a customer base, or for other commercial enterprise purposes. The market may rely on information gathered by States, from other sources, or from the market's own capabilities to create the information.
The establishment of realtime information programs could enable the exchange of commonly applied information among public and private partners, which would stimulate national availability of travel conditions information. Realtime information programs could increase the available quantity of data for conditions prediction, expand commercial markets that broker information, provide validated and accurate data for performance measure development and reporting, and stimulate new information products that could not be achieved with present day methods.
The RealTime System Management Information Program as described in
the statute is focused upon making data available for a range of
applications that benefit States and travelers. The proposed rule would
implement that statute to provide a substantial foundation for the
collection and gathering of data in a manner that would provide
coherent use for other applications. The 511 Implementation and
Operational Guidelines Version 3.0 \7\ (2005) illustrate what detailed
information from a realtime information program could be provided for other applications:
\7\ Available at the following URL: http://www.deploy511.org/ implementationguide.htm.
point B, a segment or a trip expressed in time (or delay a traveler will experience).
The extent of the proposed rule would be solely the provision of realtime information, yet the outcomes possible through this program would also reach the business of the private sector and the public sector. The proposed rule itself is neither centered on a particular technology nor on a technologydependent application. States establishing a realtime information program would be able to employ any solution chosen to make the information available. States and public agencies can enter into collaborative agreements with the private sector for establishing the program and gathering the data. States and public agencies could purchase value added information products from value added information providers. States and public agencies could apply combinations of these, and other, approaches to establish a successful realtime information program.
This NPRM proposes to incorporate a new, Part 511 to be titled RealTime System Management Information Program.
Section 511.301 Purpose
The purpose of this part would be to implement the requirements of subsections 1201(a)(1); 1201(a)(2); and, 1201(c)(1) of SAFETEALU, which directs the Secretary to establish a RealTime System Management Information Program that creates the capability in each State to monitor and collect, in realtime, the operational status of the transportation system network.
Section 511.303 Policy
Researchers working on a study on mobility considered the following
question, ``Are Traffic Congestion and/or Travel Reliability Getting
Worse?'' Their observations noted that ``four years (2000 through 2003)
of archived detector data in the Mobility Monitoring Program point to
an overall national trend of steady growth in traffic congestion and
decline in travel reliability.'' \8\ The continued growth in congestion
poses a burden on society by degrading quality of life, diminishing
economic productivity, and jeopardizing personal safety.\9\ The Real
Time System Management Information Program would become an asset for
the Department as it advances the Congestion Relief Initiative.
Promoting Operational and Technical Improvements is featured as one of
the elements in the Departmental Congestion Initiative, stressing the
need to improve operational performance, including providing better realtime traffic information to all system users.
\8\ Monitoring Urban Roadways in 2003: Current Conditions and Trends from Archived Operations Data, available at the following
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mr. Robert Rupert, FHWA Office of Operations, (202) 3662194, or via email at email@example.com; or, Mr. James Pol, U.S. DOT ITS Joint Program Office, (202) 3664374, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For legal questions, please contact Ms. Lisa MacPhee, Attorney Advisor, FHWA Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 3661392, or via email email@example.com. Office hours for the FHWA are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.