Better Roads

August 2013

Better Roads Digital Magazine

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ROLLING RIVER on the Three states join hands to upgrade lower Mississippi River bridges with ITS By John Latta F our major bridges over the lower Mississippi River are getting ITS upgrades, including a Doppler radar system that will measure currents, providing data to help eliminate barges crashing into bridge piers. The upgrades earned TIGER III grant funding from Washington. The radar system had been brought up by a former MDOT director but never advanced, says Mississippi DOT Assistant Chief Engineer Field Operations Wes Dean. This time it came in response to the realization that innovation would improve TIGER grant chances. Dean recalls, "I was with the state traffic engineer who runs our IT program, just brainstorming among our IT staff and we realized the TIGER grant program gave points for innovation." The system took some time to track down. It is used offshore and in other places primarily by the Coast Guard but MDOT says it can find no other states using it to monitor navigable water rushing past its major bridges. And because the Army Corps of Engineers own the river, MDOT had to work out with the Corps a way to install and operate it. The strategically and commercially vital bridges, the only ones that span the river along the MS/AR/LA borders, will have existing ITS systems expanded and new ones added. It's officially the Mississippi River Bridges Incident Management, Freight Movement and Security Project: a The Natchez-Vidalia Bridge lighted at night. (On the Cover: The Greenville Bridge) joint operation of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. It also includes a private partnership commitment from Delcan, an Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) software provider, for software tht will allow for fully integrated monitoring, operation and control of the entire system, accessible in all three states. The radar system, officially Real Time River Current (RTRC) sensors, will be installed on piers at water level, rising up and down with water levels. They will use underwater acoustic Doppler radar technology to determine the current patterns in the river that can cause river traffic to drift out of their bridge approach lanes. Better Roads August 2013 15 BetterBridges_BR0813.indd 15 8/1/13 2:56 PM

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