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End of an Era as COATS Project Draws to a Close

After twenty-five years and eight phases, the California Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) project drew to a close this year, marking an end to an era. Sharing roots with the founding of WTI, the COATS project has made a lasting impact on rural transportation in the western states and beyond.

The COATS initiative was established to investigate and address rural concerns using advanced transportation technologies in the northern California and southern Oregon region. COATS identified regional challenges and developed and evaluated appropriate solutions. Through the COATS partnership, the annual Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum was established as a premier venue for technology transfer and ideas exchange on Rural Intelligent Transportation Systems. The project has provided an incubator for ideas that have evolved into stand-alone projects and products. COATS has served as the impetus for long-term partnerships and was the foundation for the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium (WSRTC) Pooled Fund, which is now in its second phase.

COATS research, either directly funded through the project or as a spinoff, brought substantial benefits to the region and other stakeholders. For example:

  • First-generation Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) planning and architecture documentation, which each state incorporated into its respective ITS efforts.
  • Successful implementations of ITS technologies, including CCTV cameras, dynamic message signs, and road weather information systems, to address regional transportation challenges.
  • Strengthened partnerships between the states, which have improved operations and maintenance of the transportation system, especially near the state border.
  • Innovative technology development activities, such as work providing new web-based traveler information mechanisms.
  • Evaluations of rural ITS deployments, for which the results have been presented in national venues.
  • Outreach to a variety of audiences, including the technology transfer activities of the Western States Forum.

Notably, the initial COATS effort produced the first two Rural Transportation Management Centers (TMCs) in California. In addition, COATS project work developed the fundamental technical architecture for connecting the TMCs to rural field elements, resulting in the first all-Internet Protocol rural field element network in the California Department of Transportation. The second phase, called COATS Showcase, saw the evolution of the effort toward deployment, testing, and evaluation with multiple project implementations and the foundations for expanded efforts and spin-off projects. The Western States Forum was established in COATS Phase 3 and research on Rural Integrated Corridor Management laid the foundation for the One Stop Shop for Rural Traveler Information. Both the Western States Forum and the One Stop Shop are national award winners. In addition to growth of the Forum and establishment of the WSRTC, later phases of the COATS project included Evaluation of the Fredonyer Icy Curve Warning System, Regional ICM Planning, Survey of Western States Safety Warning Devices, Data Quality for Aggregation and Dissemination of DOT Traveler Information, Rural Deployment Assistance, Radar Speed Trailer deployment warrants, and Chain-up Delay Tracking with Bluetooth.

The COATS partnership has been productive and successful at addressing rural transportation issues with ITS, making a lasting impact in the western states region. We encourage you to review the COATS Project History page and the COATS Project Fact Sheet to read about all that has been accomplished through this project partnership. The work of the COATS Project continues under the scope of the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium.