Missouri

Overview of TIM Program

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) operates traffic management centers (TMCs) in St. Louis and Springfield. In addition, MoDOT jointly operates the Kansas City Scout (KC Scout) TMC in Kansas City with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

The St. Louis TMC is home to the Gateway Guide Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program. Gateway Guide uses real-time traffic information from ITS infrastructure throughout the region to improve safety and mobility in the St. Louis region. [1] The Gateway Guide program also includes a Motorist Assist and Emergency Response team that has been in operation since 1993 and covers over 160 center lane miles in the St. Louis region. The Motorist Assist operators, which utilizes 12 operators per shift, patrol all major interstates and highways in the region Sunday to Sunday (excluding major holidays) from 5:00 am to 7:30 pm, searching for lane obstructions and drivers in need of help. There are signs posted along the roadways to inform drivers that they are on a route covered by this program. During the off hours, when there are no Motorist Assist operations, MoDOT operates an Emergency Response crew that helps with major obstructions.[2]

KC Scout manages more than 125 miles of roadways in the region. MoDOT and KDOT work together, coordinating among many responder agencies at both the state and local levels. The advanced traffic management system (ATMS) used in Kansas City was state-of-the-art when it was implemented in 2011, integrating weather information with all other information coming from the regional ITS infrastructure.[3] The Motorist Assist program in Kansas City operates Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. In both regions, MoDOT estimates a 20-minute wait time for a Motorist Assist operator to arrive, even without calling for help.[4]

There are also TIM working groups that allow MoDOT to work with law enforcement and other partners to share and discuss the incident management performance measures. The Kansas City TIM group meets on a quarterly basis; the St. Louis group meets less frequently but is gaining momentum. There is also a TIM Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) executive subcommittee that is working to elevate TIM statewide. The goals of this subcommittee are to provide better rural coverage by delivering the National TIM Responder Training to all responder agencies, including but not limited to public works, law enforcement, fire/rescue, emergency medical service, and towing and recovery.[5]

Data Collection and Management

The TMC operators in Missouri use closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras as well as calls from Motorist Assist operators and other responder agencies to locate incidents on the highways. TMC operators track any incident identified, regardless of how minor the incident. As part of the TIM working group agreements with law enforcement and other partners, MoDOT receives law enforcement crash report data and shares performance data and findings. In 2012, when the Missouri crash report was being updated, MoDOT had a series of conversations with the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) to communicate the importance of tracking and reporting performance measures more effectively statewide. The Missouri crash report form was updated to give law enforcement more options to provide details, including whether there is another incident or recurring congestion ahead of a crash.

There is also an internal text alert system set up for MoDOT staff and their partners to help increase awareness of incidents that occur where MoDOT does not have ITS devices. While the process of manually inputting information from the field into the ATMS software is labor intensive, it increases the number of incidents that MoDOT is able to track. MoDOT hopes to make strides towards automating this process in the future.

Both roadway clearance time (RCT) and incident clearance time (ICT) are collected and recorded at each TMC through the ATMS. The TMC incident reports are tagged with a location and time stamped, both when the TMC operators receive notice of an incident and when they receive updates throughout the duration of an incident (including roadway and incident clearance times).

In general, MoDOT does not initiate data collection on secondary crashes; however, TMC operators will track and report secondary crashes if they are identified as such by law enforcement. In KC Scout’s ATMS, TMC operators can note if a crash is identified as secondary in nature.

One of MoDOT’s challenges with data collection is having to coordinate with so many different law enforcement agencies. While law enforcement is present at all major incidents, there are hundreds of different local/regional law enforcement agencies in the state. There are 134 municipalities in the St. Louis region alone, most of which are not patrolled by the MSHP, even on the interstate highways. Working with these agencies to explain the processes of what data needs to be collected and why it is important has been a big undertaking. Some progress was made when revising the crash report in 2012 to include secondary crashes, but there is still progress to be made towards getting everyone on the same page with recording roadway and incident clearance times.

Performance Analysis and Reporting

MoDOT produces a “Tracker” report for measures of departmental performance throughout the state. The Tracker report is presented to and discussed with executive management on a quarterly basis. Among other performance measures, MoDOT reports the national TIM performance measures, RCT and ICT, for those incidents of which they are aware statewide. As was previously described, secondary crashes are also tracked and reported, but only when law enforcement either marks it on the crash report or notifies the TMC operators. Figure 1 and Figure 2 were extracted from the 3rd quarter 2015 Tracker report. These figures show the average ICT as compared to previous quarters/years in St. Louis and Kansas City, respectively.[6]

Figure 1. Average Time to Clear Traffic Incident – St. Louis

Figure 1. Average Time to Clear Traffic Incident – St. Louis

Figure 2. Average Time to Clear Traffic Incident – Kansas City

Figure 2. Average Time to Clear Traffic Incident – Kansas City

KC Scout also produces detailed monthly and annual reports. The primary source of data for these reports is the ATMS. On a monthly basis, KC Scout reports the numbers of total incidents, lane blocking incidents, and multi-vehicle incidents; the total minutes of blocked lanes; the average time to clear lanes; the total emergency response service rendered throughout the month; and overall mobility data for the region. The report presents the data compared to the previous months of the year and by day of week, time of day, incident type, severity level, and location. It also includes a summary of all notable roadwork projects that occurred throughout the region during that month.[7] The annual report shows similar data that is aggregated and analyzed over the course of the entire year. Figure 1 was extracted from the 2014 annual report. This graph shows the number of incidents and average RCT by time of day.[8]

Figure 3. Number of Incidents and Average Time to Clear Lanes by Time of Day (2014)

Figure 3. Number of Incidents and Average Time to Clear Lanes by Time of Day (2014)

Benefits of TIM Performance Measurement

According to the KC Scout 2014 Annual Report, for every $1 spent by the program, it provides approximately $8 in benefits. Since the TIM program in Kansas City was developed into a robust program in 2007, there has been a 30% reduction in ICTs throughout the region. Quicker clearance times have resulted in reduced congestion and travel times, resulting in a financial benefit of fuel savings and an environmental benefit of cleaner air from reduced emissions. A reduction in secondary crashes since the program began has resulted in savings in other operation costs.[9, 10]

Having data to measure TIM performance has helped raise awareness of the importance of TIM in Missouri. The increased awareness has led to the development of a team to examine how TIM processes can be improved in both rural and urban areas throughout the state. In recent years, meeting with executive leadership on a quarterly basis to discuss TIM performance has helped to maintain momentum and to make improvements at the agency level. The heightened awareness of the importance of TIM has also led to many high-level meetings with law enforcement to set processes and procedures intended to help the TIM partners in Missouri operate as efficiently as possible.

 

[1] Missouri DOT. About MoDOT’s Gateway Guide website, http://www.gatewayguide.com/about-gateway-guide.html, accessed March 3, 2016.
[2] Missouri DOT, Gateway Guide’s Motorist Assist and Emergency Response Program website, http://www.modot.org/stlouis/links/motoristassist.htm, accessed March 3, 2016.
[3] Kansas City Scout, Managing Freeway Incidents website, http://www.kcscout.com/TIM.aspx, accessed March 3, 2016.
[4] Missouri DOT, Kansas City Motorist Assist website, http://www.modot.org/kansascity/programs/motoristassist.htm, accessed March 3, 2016.
[5] Missouri DOT, National TIM Responder Training Program website, http://www.modot.org/safety/TIMTraining.htm, accessed March 3, 2016.
[6] Gough, P. (District Engineer), Tracker: Measures of Departmental Performance – Operate a Reliable and Convenient Transportation System, Missouri DOT, http://www.modot.org/about/documents/Chapter5.pdf.
[7] KC Scout, Monthly Reports website, http://www.kcscout.com/ReportsMonthly.aspx, accessed March 3, 2016.
[8] Kansas and Missouri DOTs, Kansas City Scout 2014 Annual Report, http://www.kcscout.com/downloads/Reports/Annual/AnnualReport2014.pdf.
[9] Kansas and Missouri DOTs, Kansas City Scout 2014 Annual Report, http://www.kcscout.com/downloads/Reports/Annual/AnnualReport2014.pdf.
[10] KC Scout, Emergency Response Operations website, http://www.kcscout.com/MotoristAssist.aspx, accessed March 4, 2016.