Infrastructure

On Positive Train Control


flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

It's been almost a week since the Philadelphia train derailment and people the question remains - would postive train control prevented the incident

What is potive train control? The Federal Railorad Administation (FRA) defines it as: "Positive Train Control (PTC) systems are integrated command, control, communications, and information systems for controlling train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency." Its deployment is mandated in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 by December 31, 2105. There is still a ways to go. 

The Association of American Railroads notes the enormity of the task

PTC is an unprecedented technical and operational challenge. Since enactment of RSIA, railroads have devoted enormous human and financial resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system over the 60,000 miles that are subject to the PTC mandate. Progress to date has been substantial. Railroads have retained more than 2,400 signal system personnel to implement PTC and has already spent $5 billion on PTC development and deployment. Railroads expect to spend more than $9 billion before development and installation is complete.

A GAO report from 2013 outlines a number of challenges facing OTC roll out, echoing AAR's concerns about the complexity of the system and the timeline not being feasible. 

The week before the Philadelphia derailment, the FRA also issued a research brief about PTC across shared networks that could be used by multiple railroads. 

For more research about PTC you should go check out TRID

 

Amtrak Train Derailment in Philadelphia: Time to think about rail and infrastructure safety

Photo credit: AP 

Last night Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 frp, Washington to New York derailed in Philadelphia killing 7 and injuring more than 200 passengers and crew. The cause of the derailment is not yet known but the data recorders have been recovered and are currently being analyzed. This has been one of the biggest passenger rail crashes in recent times and investigators are looking at a number of factors. It should be noted that while rail fatalities have climbed in recent years, derailments are rare. You can find more rail safety data here.

Vice President Joe Biden, one of Amtrak's Northeast Regional's biggest proponents gave an emotional reaction. Today Congress rejected a funding increase proposal to Amtrak to make capital improvements. The last time Congress passed an Amtrak bill, it was after another fatal train crash - the 2008 Los Angeles Metrolink crash.  This week was also dubbed "Infrastructure Week" by USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx as he's been campaigning for increased investment in our nation's infrastructure needs. (For a take on the current state of the US's infrastructure needs, check out Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (NSFW)). 

 

Making City-Scale Networks of Connected Vehicles Reality


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by Roberto Maldeno

Last week's Friday Seminar featured João BarrosAssociate Professor at the University of Porto and CEO of Veniam talking about how he and his team turned public transit into smart city hot spots for Porto. After early attempts to use cellular technology for connected vehicles, which had major bottlenecks in the networks and was cost prohibitive, Barros explored the possibilities of using wi-fi technology to create a city wide mesh network. This builds upon some of Barros' earlier research that looked into the feasibility and impact of VANETs in urban environments

The key to Veniam's success on Porto has been the city's fibre-optic backbone to create wifi hotspots around the city, like bus stops. A combination of wifi and the IEEE 802.11p standard for wireless vehicle communication, and deployment in fleets such as many of the city's taxis and Metro de Porto's fleet, made the city wide mesh network possible. It also made it very cheap to offer free wifi on the entire bus fleet, which has pleased passengers

For the buses, the connectivity can be used for ticketing, navigation, infotainment, and vehicle diagnostics. This has also created a very rich, high definition data set of the fleet's operations which has informed service and route updates. 

The mesh network has also been very effective in tracking operations at Porto de Leixões. Early attempts to track vehicles with cellular technology were hindered by the lack of cell towers in the industrial area and interference from shipping containers. The wifi mesh network has made it possible to track port traffic to improve efficiency and safety. 

Barros hinted that the next wave of innovation could be in the field of wearables. His group had a project that tracked bus driver comfort and stress to better understand their behavior and how it depends on the built environment. 

Institute of Transportation Studies Friday Seminar: A sensor-based and spatially-enabled system for next generation Intelligent

Depth

Friday's Transportation Seminar is all about smart infrastructure. James Tsai from Georgia Tech presents, "A sensor-based and spatially-enabled system for next generation Intelligent and sustainable infrastructure management."

Roadway infrastructures, including pavements, bridges, and signs are deteriorating rapidly due to material aging, improper usage, harsh environments, and damages resulting from natural or man-made hazards. With the advancement of sensor technologies, it become feasible to collect the large-scale in-field detailed infrastructure data, such as 3D pavement surface data, using high-performance cameras, lasers, LiDARs, and Inertial Navigation System (INS) to gain better insight understanding of the large-scale in-filed infrastructure behavior. This talk first presents a framework for the sensor-based and spatially-enabled next generation Intelligent and sustainable infrastructure management system, including the key components of data acquisition, automatic information extraction, data integration, and intelligent infrastructure management. An intelligent sensing system has been developed, using 2D Imaging, Laser, LiDAR, and GPS/GIS Technologies with artificial intelligent and pattern recognition to automatically detect pavement surface distress, including rutting, cracking, raveling, etc. along with their detailed level characteristics for determining pavement health condition. The availability of high-resolution roadway images, 3D pavement surface data, and 3D LiDAR data has brought us a great opportunity and new challenges. This calls for a new concept to model this detailed level of big data for revealing new values for infrastructure management. First, we need to effectively extract valuable decision-support from this big data. For cracking, an innovative crack fundamental element (CFE) model that is a topological representation of cracks to support crack classification, diagnosis, and intelligent pavement management will be presented; this CFE provides researchers a mathematical foundation for modeling large-scale, in-field pavement/infrastructure crack characteristics to study crack propagation behavior at multiple scales will be presented. Examples of developing an innovative and sustainable pavement preservation method and developing intelligent crack sealing planning using emerging sensor technologies will also be presented.

The Friday Transportation Seminar takes place on September 12, 2014 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building. Cookie Hour immediately precedes it at 3:30 PM in the same location. (Note: Cookie Hour is not in the library!) There will be a no-host Happy Hour at LaVal's at 5:00 PM.

SB-743, CEQA, and moving away from LOS

Saturday in LA

Yesterday the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released Updating Transportation Impacts Analysis in the CEQA Guidelines. It's the draft discussion SB-743 Environmental Quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento. As the bill's name hints, the impetus for the legislation is the contentious proposed new arena for the Kings in downtown Sacramento though the effects will be felt statewide. 

Many of the concerns and questions raised by SB-743 lie in the proposed changes to litigation windows to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). The proposed reforms could make it easier for projects to obtain exemptions from the full CEQA project, potentially making the development of previously contested projects easier. 

From a transportation standpoint, the biggest change to CEQA is the use of level of service (LOS) in evaluating the impact of projects. Instead of relying solely on LOS to determine the significance of transportation impacts, OPR proposes:

In developing the criteria, the office shall recommend potential metrics to measure transportation impacts that may include, but are not limited to, vehicle miles traveled, vehicle miles traveled per capita, automobile trip generation rates, or automobile trips generated.

Engineering groups like Western ITE suggested using vehicle miles traveled (VMT) instead of LOS to measure impact as it focuses only on automobile congestion at the expense of other modes. So now that it looks like we're moving away from LOS, what comes next? Researchers have already begun looking at how this will affect models and traffic studies. Fehr & Peers have developed an concise website describing the impacts of SB-743

Transport Infrastructure and the World Cup

III Congresso SIBRT

Last week the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Brazil. Mega sporting events, like the World Cup and the Olympics, often require mega infrastructure projects for the hosts. For this World Cup, preparations include building five new stadiums, including the much talked about Arena Amazônia in Manaus which almost wasn't ready for the first match, and several transport projects. Airports were considered a headache early in planning, and lots of money and time has been invested in airport upgrades for an already overtaxed civil air system. On the other side, several planned public transport projects, such as monorails in Sao Paulo and Manaus, were cancelled because they could not be delivered in time for the tournament. One of the few public transport projects that succeeded was Belo Horizonte's MOVE BRT, which launched in March 2014. 

Some researchers have called these projects a "missed opportunity" to improve urban mobility in Brazil. Others have focused on how these projects could have reduced transport greenhouse gas emissions if only they were built. (Some of them were quite sustainable.)

For a good roundup of World Cup transport projects winner and losers, NextCity provides a good overview

Friday Seminar: Reliability-Based Optimization for Maintenance Management in Bridge Networks

Brooklyn Bridge at Night, NYC

This week's Friday Semiar is all about bridge networks. UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Xiaofei Hu presenter her research with the talk, "Reliability-Based Optimization for Maintenance Management."

Incorporating network configurations in bridge management problems is computationally difficult. Because of the interdependencies among bridges in a network, they have to be analyzed together. Simulation-based numerical optimization techniques adopted in past research are limited to networks of moderate sizes. In this research, a simple framework is developed to determine optimal maintenance plans for large networks with many bridges. The objective is to minimize disruption, specifically, the extra travel distance caused by potential bridge failures over a planning horizon and under a budget constraint. It is conjectured and then verified that the expected increase in vehicle-miles travelled due to failures can be approximated by the sum of expected increases due to individual failures. This allows the network-level problem to be decomposed into single-bridge problems and tackled efficiently. The computational effort increases linearly with the number of bridges.

The seminar takes place this Friday, April 18th, 2014 from 4-5 PM in 534 Davis. Cookie Hour will be in the library at 3:30.
in Bridge Networks

Friday Seminar: Adaptive Optimization Methods in System-Level Bridge Management

Halsted bridge

This week's TRANSOC Friday Seminar features ITS Berkeley PhD candidate Haotian Liu presenting Adaptive Optimization Methods in System-Level Bridge Management.

An adaptive optimization approach, known as Open-Loop Feedback Control (OLFC), is presented for Maintenance, Repair and Replacement planning of systems of bridge components. The proposed implementation of OLFC in Bridge Management Systems is intended to improve bridge management decision-making and deterioration model learning. The OLFC approach is capable of providing more accurate models than the state-of-the-art methods and yielding system cost-savings over any planning horizon when condition survey data are used to update the bridge component deterioration models. OLFC also enables agencies to consider different model classes when learning deterioration models. To illustrate the desirability of this approach, a planning agency is considered to manage a system of facilities with limited prior knowledge of the deterioration models over a designated planning horizon. OLFC is shown to improve model accuracy and reduce system costs, with a demonstration of how to incorporate system budget constraints when the system is heterogeneous. The discussion is confined to bridge decks, the component of bridge structures that undergoes the fastest deterioration, but the methodology presented in this paper is applicable to all bridge components.

The seminar will take place on Friday November 22, 2013 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 534 Davis. Cookie Hour will be taking place as usual in the library at 3:30 PM. 

Book of the Week: ReThinking A Lot

 

This week's Book of the Week is about parking. Parking lots to be precise. ReThinking A Lot by MIT's Eran Ben-Joseph

There are an estimated 600,000,000 passenger cars in the world, and that number is increasing every day. So too is Earth’s supply of parking spaces. In some cities, parking lots cover more than one-third of the metropolitan footprint. It’s official: we have paved paradise and put up a parking lot. In ReThinking a Lot, Eran Ben-Joseph shares a different vision for parking’s future. Parking lots, he writes, are ripe for transformation. After all, as he points out, their design and function has not been rethought since the 1950s. With this book, Ben-Joseph pushes the parking lot into the twenty-first century.

Parking lots are something everybody has an opinion on. Here's an interview with Ben-Joseph on Marketplace where he discusses the book.  

And of course, you can check out the book from the library

Friday Seminar: A statistical process control framework to support health-monitoring

Overseas (Old) Highway Bridge, Missouri & Ohio  Key Channel

This week's TRANSOC Friday Seminar is all about infrastructure! Pablo L. Durango-Cohen from Northwestern University will talk about structural health-monitoring. 

In this talk, we describe development and field application of a process control framework to support structural health-monitoring and management of transportation infrastructure. The work is motivated by technological advances that allow for continuous, long-term, simultaneous collection of various response measurements, as well as the factors that contribute deterioration. The framework provides an integrated, generally-applicable (to various types of structural response data) statistical approach that links performance modeling and structural health monitoring. The framework consists of two parts: The first, estimation of statistical models to explain, predict, and control for common-cause variation, i.e., changes, including serial dependence that can be attributed to usual operating conditions. The ensuing standardized innovation series are analyzed in the second part of the framework, where we use single and multivariate control charts to detect special-cause or unusual events. We illustrate the proposed framework with analysis of strain and displacement data from the monitoring system on the Hurley Bridge (Wisconsin Structure B-26-7).

The seminar takes place Friday, November 8, 2013 in 534 Davis from 4:00-5:00 PM. Cookie Hour (of course) precedes in the library at 3:30. 

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