Managing Roadway and Bridge Events for Oversized
and Overweight Vehicle Routing
March 18, 2015
Summary of the Federal Highway Administration’s Quarterly Webinar: Applications of Geospatial Technologies in Transportation
These notes provide a summary of the PowerPoint presentation discussed during the webinar and detail the question and answer session that followed the presentation.
The presentation is available upon request from the webinar speaker Jay Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The webinar recording is available at: https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/p37y8vkgka1/.
Director - Special Projects Manager
Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT)
Approximately 41 participants attended the webinar.
Introduction to Presentations
Mark Sarmiento of FHWA thanked participants for joining the webinar. This webinar was the 25th in a quarterly series of FHWA-sponsored webinars. The series deals with the application of geographic information systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies to transportation. This webinar focused on Oklahoma DOT's Restriction Management application, which allows the agency to intelligently route and permit trucks online while taking roadway and bridge events into account.
Oklahoma is a heavy oil, gas, and agriculture state, and there are six ports in the state (including a navigational channel via the Mississippi River). Because of this, the state has to contend with a large number of oversized and overweight (OS/OW) truck loads. ODOT issues over 250,000 permits per year, the 5th highest in the U.S. Several years ago, the Oklahoma State Legislature approached ODOT about building an OS/OW automated routing system.
ODOT began developing their OS/OW Automated Routing System in 2009, and launched the system in November 2011. The system is designed to consider a number of restrictions for OS/OW loads, including:
- Bridges: Based on physical restrictions (height, weight, width)
- Roadways: physical restrictions and directional limits
- Traffic: Congestion limits and emergencies
OS/OW System Goals and Functionality
ODOT and its vendor designed the system to perform restriction management, permitting, routing, administration support, and data integration. The system follows a simple process:
- Takes complete data on the road network (e.g., size of roads, bridge load limits, etc.);
- Applies restrictions [e.g., directions, construction zones, road problems, and limits (e.g. road collapse)];
- Enters in information about a particular OS/OW vehicle, its dimensions, axels, weight, and other restrictions; and
- Analyzes where that vehicle can and cannot go and delivers a complete route from Point A to Point B.
Companies can either apply for and receive a permit online, or call permitting ODOT staff who use the system to find the best route and issue a permit.
Restriction Manager Application
The Restriction Manager application, part of ODOT's OS/OW Automated Routing System, combines asset management with GIS functions to provide intelligent routing. The application analyzes a variety of restrictions to determine the most effective and safest route for a vehicle in a matter of minutes.
The application processes three categories of restrictions:
- Permanent restrictions are always in place. For example, every bridge is a restriction - trucks or loads that are too wide, tall, or heavy for a particular bridge can never pass over it.
- Temporary restrictions have a start and an end date, such as construction. The application will send a notification to the staff member who uploaded the restriction before it expires as a reminder to update the date range if necessary.
- Analytical restrictions are determined by the system. For example, if an interchange is not navigable by a particular OS/OW truck, the system will determine if the ramps and streets near that interchange are possible to navigate rather than suggesting an inefficient detour.
The Restriction Manager pulls data daily from a number of database systems, ODOT Field Offices and Highway Patrol Officers provide field and mobile inputs, and the public/industry can submit restrictions to the Department of Public Safety. The Restriction Manager application also archives all past restrictions.
In its first year, the OS/OW Automated Routing System helped ODOT to issue the highest number of permits ever processed by Oklahoma in one year, generating eight million dollars in new revenue. The application paid for itself in approximately six months. As almost 70% of OS/OW permits are now issued automatically using the system, ODOT was able to reduce operation employees' hours, and reduced industry time and effort to request a permit. The agency received a 91% satisfaction rate in a recent customer survey.
Next Steps and Additional Uses of Restriction Management
ODOT has considered a variety of potential uses for the Restriction Management application beyond its role in the OS/OW Automated Routing System. For example, ODOT is currently looking at using the application to feed data into the state's road condition reporting system and develop a new 511 State System.
In the future, ODOT plans to make the Restriction Management application mobile accessible so staff can access and upload restrictions into the application in the field. By making the application mobile, ODOT can tie in other information, such as bridge inventory data, video, and bridge inspection reports, improving staff's decisionmaking process in setting restrictions in the field.
Question and Answer Session
What changes did ODOT have to make to its road inventory database to support the automatic features of this application?
ODOT did not have to make any database updates, but did have to update its linework to support routing. The agency needed a directional route-point-node system and so had to buy commercial linework to combine with their own. However, ODOT believes it would have been better to spend the additional money to convert its own linework to the necessary standards instead of purchasing commercially.
Was your Restriction Manager written in-house, or was it based on a vendor supplied application?
ODOT's Restriction Manager, along with the entire OS/OW System, was custom built by a vendor and was not an off-the-shelf product.
What were ODOT's greatest challenges in implementing the Restriction Manager?
One of the biggest challenges was identifying the routing priority process (e.g., interstate is top priority, local roads are low, etc.). The key was to first establish those priorities, establish the restrictions, and lastly tell the system how to make decisions.
Since ODOT launched the Restriction Manager application in 2011, the agency has seen dramatic changes across-the-board. In 2011, the agency had 20% higher permitting revenues. The agency has begun to interview companies about the tool, and found was that trucking companies appreciate being able to access the system and get a permit and route quickly, particularly outside regular business hours.
How does ODOT manage the process of capturing temporary restrictions and keeping the restrictions current?
ODOT provided trainings to each field division on what the agency was trying to do with the OS/OW tracking system and what the agency needed field staff to contribute, as these staff understand local temporary restrictions and road conditions the best. Inputting restrictions into the online system is now part of the standard checklist for construction and maintenance projects in the field offices. The Restriction Manager application sends an email to whoever submitted a restriction before the restriction expires so they can either update or remove the restriction. Jay, who provided these trainings, also had a strong letter of support from ODOT's director.
Has ODOT seen a percent increase in total permits and revenue because of the new permitting system?
That first year ODOT received 20% more revenue, or eight million dollars more, than any previous year. The agency received 252,000 permits in the first year, which was 40,000 more permits than had ever been issued in a year previously.
Who manages all these restrictions?
The Division Offices take the lead on managing restrictions. A “Top Restriction Manager,” a DPS staff member, has the final authority to commit or decommit restrictions from the system.
Can you input date/time restrictions? For example, not allowing movement on holidays and/or after dark?
Yes. Every temporary restriction has a beginning date and end date. However, the system doesn't route for time, as ODOT doesn't ask drivers for the time the driver plans to be traveling. However, the permits do note laws that do not allow driving certain types of loads at night or during rush hours.
Can industry make changes to a permit after it is issued?
Industry can make changes online to their permit (e.g., reduce weight, then re-run the route accordingly). However, size and weight staff have to approve these changes. If the change is unreasonable, these staff can cancel the permit and ask the applicant to apply for a new one.
Are many of your permits issued to multi-state brokers, or just directly to the truck?
ODOT has found that there are many local trucking companies who apply for permits (approximately half of the total organizations applying for permits). Local companies account for much of phone permitting the agency still does, as these companies are not used to using the online system.
Is there an existing 511 web application or road conditions application at the moment?
ODOT is not using Restriction Manager to feed the data to those systems, but will look into doing so. Setting up the web system isn't too difficult, as having a 24/7 Restriction Manager makes it easy to feed the data straight into those systems.
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