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Safe Passage: Development and Demonstration of a Rural Weather Prediction Model and Motorist Communication System for Safe and Efficient Traffic Management/Infrastructure Maintenance

Project #: 428055
Start Date: 10/01/1999
End Date: 12/31/2003
Status: Completed

Safe and efficient management of transportation facilities is dependent on monitoring, forecasting, and the application of effective information delivery systems. When sudden and dramatic weather changes impact pavement surface conditions, visibility, traffic flow, and other travel conditions, the functions that incorporate weather data collection, prediction, modeling, and forecasting become very critical to the safe management and operation of the roadway. Accurate, timely, and efficient ways in which to disseminate information to travelers impacted by the weather and road conditions are necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the facility. When incidents do occur in these areas, up-to-date information will aid in coordinating the appropriate response to the incident.The SAFE-PASSAGE project is located on Interstate 90, a major east-west corridor between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington. This route is a vital link in the transportation system on a local and national scale. Locally, Bozeman Pass serves daily commuters from Livingston, Montana that work in Bozeman, Montana, and the reverse is also true. Nationally, this corridor serves the Yellowstone National Park and Greater Yellowstone areas, a major tourism draw during all seasons. This corridor is also a vital link in the commercial transportation infrastructure.The operational problems within the limits of the proposed project are primarily weather related. Severe snow storms, icy road conditions, and high winds all cause road closures within the project limits. Commercial vehicles are particularly affected by the weather and road conditions in this area due to loss of friction resulting in chain requirements and high winds that necessitate slow-speed detours.The SAFE-PASSAGE project involves the development of a new model for the accurate prediction of road and weather conditions. This predictive model will be integrated with several traditional rural ITS technologies including Road and Weather Information Systems (RWIS), Variable Message Signs (VMS), Highway Advisory Radio (HAR), a Rural Traffic Management Center (RTMC), and Rural Advanced Traveler Information System (Rural ATIS). The RTMC’s function will be to serve as the center for control, communications, data collection, data processing, and information dissemination.The objective of this project are to develop, test, implement and evaluate a system that will accurately provide current and future weather and road condition information to highway operators and users. The proposed SAFE-PASSAGE system will significantly improve several aspects of transportation operations and maintenance through a high elevation mountain pass that is subject to severe weather challenges. The system will also enable maintenance and enforcement personnel to more accurately predict pavement temperatures and icy conditions, improve the timing of deicing chemical applications, and improve coordination and dissemination of traveler information on roadways in this high elevation mountain pass corridor. The project will accelerate deployment of similar systems in Montana and other State that have roadways that experience sudden changes in weather and roadway conditions.The result of this project will be to document the benefits of the implemented system. These benefits will primarily be to increase traveler safety, improve operations and maintenance, implement consistent and efficient traffic management tools and methods for more effective operation of the transportation facilities, and increase the usefulness of information to the customer (traveler) through improved safety efficiency, and productivity.


To optimize motorist safety and incident management on Interstate 90 between Livingston and Bozeman, Montana.


  • Steve Albert
    Steve Albert