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Case Studies of Maintaining ITS Devices in Rural Areas – Showcase Evaluation #3

Project #: 426349
Start Date: 10/01/2001
End Date: 12/30/2005

Critical to the long-term success of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) deployment is the timely and appropriate maintenance of ITS elements. Proper maintenance can help to extend the useful life of the ITS infrastructure, reducing its long-term cost. Proper maintenance can also help to increase system reliability, making ITS elements more valuable to both travelers and operators. On the other hand, malfunctioning ITS equipment can quickly harm the credibility of ITS investments, potentially reducing the savings in time, lives and money that may result from ITS deployment.Despite the importance of ITS maintenance, previous studies done by the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University-Bozeman for the California and Oregon Departments of Transportation indicate that little research has been done into ITS maintenance issues. It could be that the newness of most ITS deployment means that much maintenance has been covered by vendors through warranty agreements. The expiration of warranties will, however, return responsibility for ITS maintenance onto those organizations putting technology in the field. Moreover, ITS maintenance in rural environments has a couple of unique challenges compared to urban areas. First, contracting, which is becoming increasingly common for ITS maintenance, will be less feasible and more expensive in rural areas, due to the shortage of proximate competent firms. This means that rural ITS deployments may need to rely more heavily on the resources and skills of the deploying organizations to perform maintenance. Second, distance and travel time between maintenance offices and field devices will be significantly greater in rural areas. This is especially critical for maintenance activities requiring very specialized training that may be available out of one office in the state. WTI’s previous work in ITS maintenance, cited earlier, focused on the issue primarily from a planning perspective. As more ITS technologies are deployed in the California/Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) study area, there should be a richer repository of information on actual maintenance experience for Caltrans and ODOT, as well as other organizations that have deployed ITS in the area. This experience may be useful in providing more accurate information on maintenance costs, lessons learned on how to improve maintainability of field devices in the design and procurement phases, and other information that could help to improve ITS maintenance for existing and future deployments.


The purpose of this evaluation is to develop case studies of the maintenance of ITS demonstration and deployment in the COATS study area. The objective of these case studies is to provide lessons learned to guide future deployment of ITS in the COATS area specifically, and in rural environments in general.


  • Chris Strong
    Chris Strong


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