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Posted on: October 26, 2023

Leading in sustainable safety: US DOT helps kick off RCOC's groundbreaking project

US DOT Robert Hampshire and RCOC Chair Andrea LaLonde speaking at grant announcement event

Thanks to a US Department of Transportation (US DOT) grant, the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) is spearheading a transformative project to deploy and operate advanced vehicle technology in Oakland County. The project, entitled "Leading in Sustainable Safety with Technology," aims to build a model for the deployment of safety-critical communication technology. 

Deputy Assistant US Secretary of Transportation and Chief US DOT Scientist Robert Hampshire, PhD, helped kick off the project at a press conference at RCOC’s state-of-the-art Traffic Operations Center in Waterford Twp. on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

The project will study the best ways to deploy this technology which enables communication between vehicles, infrastructure and even pedestrians. Vehicles can share safety-critical information with each other, traffic signals and mobile devices, enhancing safety and efficiency on the road. 

For example, the technology would allow cars to alert drivers of sudden stops or pedestrians crossing the street ahead, helping prevent crashes, or enable emergency vehicles to coordinate with traffic signals for faster response times and safe passage through intersections.

The technology optimizes traffic flow by allowing vehicles to communicate with traffic-management systems, reducing crashes, congestion and environmental impacts.  

“Transportation safety remains a pressing concern in the United States,” noted RCOC Deputy Managing Director/County Highway Engineer Gary Piotrowicz, “with alarming statistics revealing nearly 7 million traffic crashes and 43,000 traffic fatalities in 2021, the highest number in over a decade. Safety-critical communication technology on the roads and in vehicles holds the potential to mitigate these tragedies. 

"This project represents a landmark step toward enhancing transportation safety and ensuring a brighter future for Oakland County,” Piotrowicz added. “We believe in the power of innovation and are committed to leading the way in sustainable safety with this cutting-edge technology." 

The adoption of this technology in the U.S. has faced challenges over the last decade but has been gaining momentum over the last year as the US DOT has committed to supporting it and prompting a call for collaboration between public and private sector leaders to accelerate adoption. RCOC, a trailblazer in intelligent transportation and advanced technology, has responded to this call with a forward-thinking vision.

"One of the biggest hurdles to overcome has been figuring out how transportation agencies are going to pay to deploy this technology,” explained Erin Milligan, CEO of P3Mobility, the project delivery lead. “This project is going to explore innovative business models and funding sources that allow RCOC to deploy the technology without relying entirely on government funding.” 

P3Mobility is a leader in the vehicle-communications technology industry. It provides software and advisory services that aim to accelerate the adoption of this technology. “P3Mobility is thrilled to be part of this collaborative effort that will redefine transportation safety,” Milligan said. “Together, we are charting the course for a sustainable transportation future." 

The project is funded by a $2 million US DOT Stage 1 Planning and Prototyping Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant. Key project objectives include:

  • Develop a comprehensive plan encompassing technical, business, financial, workforce-development and community-engagement aspects for the deployment of safety-critical communication technology.
  • Demonstrate a prototype of a technology framework that seamlessly integrates with existing traffic-management and advanced transportation systems.
  • Demonstrate and quantify the safety, mobility and sustainability benefits of safety-critical communication technology.
  • Highlight the advantages of safety-critical communication technology for disadvantaged communities that are affected by traffic congestion.
  • Engage and educate community members, garnering support for the project.
  • Launch a robust communication campaign, fostering public awareness and understanding of the technology.
  • Establish partnerships and lay the groundwork for future project phases.

"The transportation industry needs to understand how to blend traditional road engineering with innovative technologies if we ultimately want to address our modern transportation challenges of safety, congestion, emissions and accessibility," stated Sean Kelley, senior vice president of The Mannik & Smith Group Inc., the lead transportation-engineering partner on the project. 

This project represents a groundbreaking collaboration that brings together the public and private sectors to drive sustainable safety, transform transportation and secure a brighter future for all. The project will run for the next 12 months.

Editor’s note: Photos of US Secretary of Transportation and Chief US DOT Scientist Robert Hampshire and Road Commission for Oakland County Board Chair Andrea LaLonde are attached.

 

**For further information, media inquiries, or comments, please contact: RCOC Senior Communications Manager Craig Bryson at cbryson@rcoc.org or at (248) 645-2000, ext. 2202.

 

**About The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC): RCOC maintains the largest county road system in Michigan with more than 2,700 miles of county roads. RCOC has long been a leader in transportation technology, having introduced the first “adaptive” traffic-signal system for arterial roads in the nation in 1992. Today, the agency maintains one of the largest, most advanced adaptive traffic-signal systems in the nation, which has been demonstrated to improve safety and reduce congestion. RCOC has long worked with US DOT, the automotive industry and transportation technology companies across the globe to advance the state of transportation technology. www.rcocweb.org.

 

**About P3Mobility: P3Mobility is a digital infrastructure project development firm which provides consulting services and a software platform that seeks to accelerate adoption of safety critical communication technology. P3Mobility’s software platform provides a road operator or public jurisdiction with the means of financing, operating, and maintaining the technology. Learn more at p3mobility.com.

 

**About The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc: The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. (MSG) offers an innovative and solution-oriented approach to helping clients complete successful projects by employing creativity to solve problems, maximizing value and reaching cost effective client solutions.

 

MSG offers a full array of consulting services for both the public and private sectors including, civil/structural design and permitting, construction engineering, cultural resources, environmental, geotechnical, landscape architecture, planning/funding strategies/grant writing, program management and surveying.

 

MSG has over 400 employees in 15 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Alabama. The firm is consistently ranked in Engineering-News Record’s (ENR) Top 500 Design Firms nationwide, and ENR’s Top Midwest Design Firms. https://manniksmithgroup.com/

 

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