NOCoE BiWeekly Newsletter: March 16, 2017

Message from the Director
By Patrick Son

I am excited to share with everyone a freshly created resource that we put together for a unique event that will affect the contiguous 48 states which is the Nationwide Solar Eclipse. This resource page puts a brief description and succinct explanations of why a e nationwide solar eclipse is important and relative to TSMO. The reason we have decided to focus on this event is because:

In the path of totality, special events will be the major challenge for transportation operators. But the effects of darkness and unusual travel patterns will affect the transportation network in every state.

The significance of this event can’t be underestimated although its duration may be short (2 min. 20 sec). One common misconception people have is: “Our state is not in the path of totality and so we won’t be affected.” The solar eclipse is expected to have varying degrees of darkness throughout the entire US with most of the country having at least 70% darkness in the middle of the day.

From a TSMO perspective, smaller counties, roads, and towns will see a rush of amateur astronomers and residents from neighboring states that will travel along the solar eclipse path and stop on the side of the road, unpaved areas, or anywhere they can get a spot to see the solar eclipse. If you have any resources, plans, table top exercises, or information campaigns that will or are being developed to share with your partners and the public, please SHARE THEM WITH NOCoE by e-mailing us at so that we may share these resources on our page for anyone to take advantage of and not recreate the wheel.

Solar Eclipse 2017 Resources
By Adam Hopps

The National Operations Center of Excellence is providing resources for this year’s total solar eclipse. The eclipse’s path of totality will affect 14 states but will be visible from all 48 contigious states. 

Special events within the totality path, as well as the general public’s effort to view the event across the country, will create unique transportation challenges for operators to consider.

With an exponential amount of traffic expected to drive in during this time, motorists deciding to stop on the side of the road, airports that may be affected (including smaller, local airports) and a large spike in traffic, this event will put a stress on the system that is unlike any other event. But we can plan, we can help get the word out so that people can not only enjoy the solar eclipse, but do it safely.

On our NATIONWIDE SOLAR ECLIPSE RESOURCE page, NOCoE has collected resources from local and state DOTs, FHWA fact sheets, NASA resources on special events across the country, and information on the eclipse itself. This page will be updated until the big event on August 21. Be sure to also watch our SOLAR ECLIPSE WEBINAR with speakers from NASA, the Smithsonian, FHWA, and several agencies within the path of totality.

How Do I Deliver My Traffic Operations Program? By Dean Gustafson, PE, PTOE
By Dean Gustafson, PE, PTOE
State Operations Engineer, Virginia DOT

The Every State DOT and locality is trying to improve how they operate their transportation system.  Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O) has several key building blocks:

-Transportation Management Center (TMC),
-Freeway Service Patrol (FSP)
-Maintenance of field ITS devices
-Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS)

How do we assemble and deliver these services to operate?  Do we hire contractors or hire state employees with state equipment?  What will work best for my jurisdiction? 
Each state has a different operating environment.  Virginia is an at-will employment state.  We have flexibility in creating positions (types) to fit our need, but we are limited in numbers of positions assigned to operations.  Traffic Operations is a dynamic business and we cannot operate on fixed numbers of positions.  While our hiring process has improved, it is challenging to remove non-performing employees.  Our agency equipment fleet is driven by dump trucks and pick-up trucks, not freeway service patrols.  We used the same assumptions regarding when to replace vehicles. Please click here to read more.

My Southeast Peer Exchange Experience
By Melissa Ackert PE, District Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O) Engineer
FDOT District Four Traffic Operations

The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) organized and facilitated the 2016 Southeast Peer Exchange that included representatives from the I-95 Corridor Coalition, the North Carolina DOT, the South Carolina DOT, the Florida DOT and the Virginia DOT.

I was given the opportunity to represent the Florida DOT with a colleague of mine from our Central Office. Going into the Peer Exchange, I was excited to be given the opportunity to learn about the various strategies and project my peers were undertaking in the Southeast Florida region. While attending the meetings, I was able to hear from my peers and participate in conversations we had, covering a wide range of topics. The highlights of these conversations for me included the discussion we had on the use of social media by Traffic Management Centers (TMC) and how the TMCs get information on road conditions from social media. Through another conversation, I was able to learn about how agencies who do not have 100% traffic monitoring coverage via CCTV are beginning to explore a new way of monitoring incidents through the use of drones. Please click here to read more. 

TIM: Connected Vehicle Demonstration Video Featuring PA DOT Secretary Leslie Richards

Our TIM Awareness Week: Connected Vehicle Demonstration page has been updated to include an interview with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, Leslie Richards. Leslie speaks on the importance of connected and autonomous vehicles and how this technology will help reduce the number of vehicle-related accidents and deaths. Richards states it is the hope of the Pennsylvania DOT that deaths are eventually reduced to zero, and that when working to help victims and clear accidents from roadways, every second counts. She reminds us that emergency responders are continually putting their lives in danger and that's why the connected and autonomous vehicle technology is necessary in order for them to be protected, as well as motorists. 


Meet Jason Sun, NOCoE's New Intern
NOCoE welcomes its new intern, Jason Sun. Jason joined NOCoE this month and is a Catholic University of America graduate assistant for NOCoE and AASHTO. He currently studies Intelligent Transportation within the Civil Engineering Department at the Catholic University of America.

His research interests include intelligent transportation systems, GIS mapping, hybrid navigation systems, and program designing and coding. Jason received his B.S. at Southeast University in China in 2015. Jason will assist NOCoE staff with various projects.