EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 21, 2014

Three states develop $1.7M traffic management system

New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont share resources, funding for project

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — CONCORD — New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont are cooperating on a more than $1.7 million project to create a northern New England traffic network of traveler information.

Public safety and highway crews also will use the system as they mount responses to traffic accidents and changing weather.

“It will be very cool,” said Denise Markow, who oversees the state’s Transportation Management Center. “We’re very excited.”

The governor and the Executive Council recently authorized contract talks with the other states, with final consideration of a regional compact expected as soon as next month.

The system likely will come online sometime in the next 18 months.

“January 2016 at the outer end,” Markow said.

This could just be the start.

The data hub would let Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island join later, if they want.

“Our long-term vision is to create a regional, New England system,” she said.

Third party vendors, such as websites and television stations, could access the information to develop mobile applications for commuter use, Markow said.

State transportation officials agreed pooling resources made sense.

New Hampshire’s cost is about $530,000. The state will use federal funds. It will be a web- and Cloud-based system.

“A one-stop web service,” Markow said.

People throughout northern New England will find information about accidents, construction, traffic and changing weather crossing borders.

Traffic and safety management pros, meanwhile, will put information into the system that will go to travelers via both the web and electronic roadside message boards, but also let the managers react to situations on the highway.

“This helps with incident response,” Markow said. “We can go in and provide response planning.”

New Hampshire ruled out incorporating a motorist call-in component because of the potential for sending a mixed message to drivers.

“We’re very concerned about distracted driving,” Markow said.

She stressed officials are early in the development of the new system.

“We’re in the first step of this,” she said.

New Hampshire Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement pitched the program to the governor and Executive Council in a memo.

“This Tri-State initiative will develop a system that can provide regional situational awareness with respect to traffic management between the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont,” Clement wrote. “This procurement will produce a traffic management system and a traveler information system that will provide incident, construction, weather and travel time data to the traveling public seamlessly for events that occur both in individual states as well as cross-border events,.”

The project pleased AAA Northern New England.

“It is great to see our transportation agencies working together to gain economies of scale to upgrade their communications systems, ultimately improving highway safety and efficiency,” said AAA spokesman Patrick Moody. “The technology improves maintenance and operations but will also be useful for the every day motorist with relevant up-to-date information concerning road conditions, snow and ice, construction zones and congestion caused by incidents such as car crashes.”