Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers

A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
Published Aug. 17, 2017

TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway gets federal contract award for connected vehicle program

The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is seeking 1,600 volunteers as part of its connected-vehicle technology pilot program, which aims to improve the safety and ease of driving in Tampa. The program is set to start in April 2018 and run through December 2019.

Those who are selected will receive a 30-percent toll rebate for trips on the Selmon's reversible lanes, up to a maximum of $550. They'll also be among the first in the country to test this type of technology, which has been at the forefront of transportation discussions for several years.

Their vehicles will be outfitted with devices that "talk" to other connected vehicles to help prevent crashes. That device will also interact with traffic signals, pedestrians' smart phones and other infrastructure.

For example, drivers entering the Selmon's reversible lanes would receive a warning if cars on the road ahead slowed suddenly or came to a stop. If someone enters the lanes in the wrong direction, they'd receive an alert, which would be also be sent to other drivers warning them of the danger.

Those warnings will flash in their review mirror via a special glass that will installed in their vehicle once a participant is approved to take part, said THEA Planning Director Bob Frey.

These types of advances are part of a $17 million federal contract awarded nearly two years ago as part of a Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment. Two other agencies received federal Department of Transportation contracts: Wyoming's grant focuses on using the new technology to move freight, while New York City has used its share of the money to outfit taxis with devices and to make tightly-spaced intersections in dense neighborhoods safer for drivers and pedestrians.

"We're all looking at different things, trying to look at it from a different perspectives and solve different problems," Frey said. "Tampa is the only one that has participation so the general public can take part."

In addition to installing the technology in their own vehicles, people will also be able to participate as pedestrians through an app on their smartphones. The app, which should be available for download in February, will allow folks to request a walk signal at several intersections along Meridian Avenue. On some downtown streets, it will also sent out an alert if a bus or streetcar is starting to move nearby.

Buses equipped with the devices will be given priority at traffic signals to keep them running on schedule. The device would also warn a streetcar operator when a car is turning right at an intersection as the streetcar is approaching. About 20 buses and streetcars will be part of the pilot.

"Ultimately, we'd like this technology to grow and reach the entire region so all of Hillsborough County and those who drive downtown can benefit from it," Frey said.

The technology doesn't keep data on individual drivers or commuting patterns, Frey said, but instead looks at overall trends in the entire testing zone. For example, the expressway authority will look at whether the connected vehicles help decrease delays or reduce the number of crashes.

Said Frey: "We want to see how this impacts the roadway and how it makes it operate more efficiently."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. In this April 24, 2019, photo, American Airlines aircraft are shown parked at their gates at Miami International Airport in Miami. A bail hearing is scheduled for a mechanic charged with sabotaging an American Airlines jetliner as part of a labor dispute. Prosecutors are seeking pretrial detention for 60-year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani at a hearing Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    His arraignment on a sabotage-related charge is scheduled for Friday; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
  2. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  3. The Hillsborough County Commission listens to a briefing in June about the lawsuit challenging the county's one-cent transportation sales tax. On Wednesday, reacting to a judge's ruling in that case, commissioners voted to restore the guidelines originally approved by voters on how the tax should be spent. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
    Commissioner Stacy White, who is challenging the tax in court, was the only “no” vote.
  4. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.
  5. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
  6. Florida Department of Transportation workers inspect damage to the Interstate 175 overpass at Sixth Street S caused by a roll-off dumpster truck that left its hydraulic arm upright, according to St. Petersburg police. The incident sent concrete falling onto Sixth Street S below. Courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department
    Sixth Street S from Fourth Avenue S to Fifth Avenue S will be closed for up to three weeks for repairs, state officials say.
  7. Pasco County plans to reduce bus service to central Pasco. The route began in May 2017. Handout
    The cuts eliminate Saturday service and a route along Collier Parkway.
  8. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
    His infant daughter suffered life-threatening injuries, officials said.
  9. Hillsborough County will dedicate about $1 million each school year to employ crossing guards at all 43 of its public middle schools. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2014)]
    While the board’s new Democratic majority fought for modest increases in taxes and fees next fiscal year, the commission voted Thursday night to forego any changes to the millage rate.
  10. Pasco County says it was a mistake to assess a transportation fee on this Dunkin' Donuts store in Land O' Lakes as if it were a fast-food restaurant. The county categorized it as a convenience store/gas station and refunded nearly $59,000 to the developer. C.T. BOWEN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The department added safeguards after an audit showed it couldn’t account for more than 31,000 commercial building permits and sometimes failed to collect required transportation fees.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement