Minnesota spreads traffic management wealth

Traffic planners in Minnesota are finding that motorists in smaller, growing

cities can benefit as much as large metropolitan areas from advanced traffic

management systems. So the state's Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT)

is adapting the system it has in Minneapolis/St. Paul for outlying areas.

Mn/DOT completed installation of its traffic management system for Duluth

late this summer and will finish a similar system for St. Cloud in spring

2001, said department spokesman Andrew Brown. Travelers and transportation

officials in those cities will benefit from field devices that provide traffic

surveillance, speed and volume data, and ice detection.

Duluth, with a population of 86,000, is a large port city on the western

end of Lake Superior. It has 184,000 people living within a 30-mile radius

of the hilly city and experiences lake-effect fog, snow and ice, making

it an ideal candidate for traffic safety improvements.

The centerpiece of the system is the Transportation and Operation Communication

Center (TOCC). It uses software to gather data from and control variable

speed limit signs, permanent and mobile dynamic message signs, cameras,

ice detection and virtual vehicle counting systems, and a traveler information

kiosk at a local mall. It works via telephone lines, cable and wireless

technology.

ADDCO Inc., St. Paul, is the prime contractor and integrator for the Duluth

and St. Cloud projects, the combined value of which is $5.4 million, said

Tom Peters, contract manager for Mn/DOT's Office of Advanced Transportation

Systems. Federal dollars paid for the majority of the project, he said.

Mn/DOT officials plan to link communications from each TOCC to create a

statewide incident response network.

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