Georgia Tollway ask for multimode readers - 6B, 6C compulsory, E-ZPass optional
By Peter Samuel
Georgia's State Road & Tollway Authority (Georgia Tollway or GSRTA) is after multiprotocol readers that must reliably read the new ISO 180000-6C sticker tag transponders as well as the eGo Plus transponders from TransCore. 5.9GHz, E-ZPass and ASTMv6 capabilities are also hinted at in the RFP's statement: "the ability to support additional DSRC protocols is desired, but not required."
Immediate reason for the procurement is Georgia Tollway's responsibility to have a toll system operating in new HOT lanes on I-85 due to open August 1, 2011. Proposals are due by Jan 6, 2011 and the contract award is planned for Jan 10, 2011. (GSRTA says there could be more than one contract awarded.) The first shipments are required within 30 days, by Feb 5.
This is a request for readers in inventory.
This Georgia DOT project must be capable of reading the new 6C transponders supplied by Federal Signal/Sirit, Neology, TransCore and others.
It is a more modern version of the ISO 18000-6B sticker tag transponders that TransCore developed and has a patent on as eGo, and later eGo Plus. TransCore's eGo series transponders are the dominant means by which tolls are collected in Texas (brands TxTag, EZ TAG and TollTag), Washington State (Good To Go!) and Florida (SunPass Mini) as well as on the Georgia 400 Toll Road operated by Georgia Tollway (Cruise Card.)
In Georgia, TransCore is contracted to supplying 6C transponders which are being marketed under the brand PEACH PASS, Keep Moving!
New PEACH PASSes
The new multimode readers are needed to read the existing base of eGo Plus Cruise Card transponders and the new 6C PEACH PASSes, and will be installed on both Georgia toll facilities, as well as on any other toll lanes developed under an ambitious Managed Lane network for the Atlanta area. They have to be capable of reading windshield as well as bumper mounted transponders.
No back office billing arrangements are in place for Texas and Florida transponders to be read but the new readers will provide the front end capability to implement broad interoperability. The ability to read ASTMv6 PrePass transponders on trucks may be of interest in a major trucking hub like Atlanta, and there is also some traffic with E-ZPass accounts and transponders.
I-85 HOT Lanes
The immediate I-85 HOT Lanes project converts some 16 miles, 25km of a single HOV lane each direction into HOT Lanes.
The I-85 corridor is the only radial highway heading in to the I-285 belt route and to central Atlanta from the northeast.
This is a section of expressway with average daily traffic in eight and ten lanes with high segments of 265k and the lowest 185k.
The HOT Lanes are designed with five toll zones. Dynamic pricing will be implemented to maintain a high level of service while attracting traffic.
A major part of the $12m construction cost is the signs, nine with the varying prices posted in LED light panels. Some of the signs are huge. There's a total of nearly 20,000ft2, 2,000m2 of signage. On 32 sign gantries.
There is also new thermoplastic striping and 12,500 raised pavement markers for delineating the HOT Lanes from general purpose, new guardrail, and concrete barrier in places, and some 40 miles, 65km of cable conduit. There are 23 cameras and 13 reader positions.
All I-85 Express Lanes users will have to register their vehicles for a PEACH PASS. This includes motorists planning to drive solo or with one extra passenger (in which case they will be tolled) or as part of a carpool of three or more occupants. Transit vehicles, 'alternative fuel' (electric' but not hybrid gasoline/electric) vehicles, emergency vehicles, and motorbikes will all be entitled to free travel but only with a PEACH PASS and their registration in an Exempt Vehicle category.
All PEACH PASS transponders will be issued free to those registering to use the toll express lanes.
No vehicles over 6 wheels are eligible to travel in the managed lanes.
Overall cost of the I-85 HOT Lanes project is around $60m. A local company World Fiber Technologies have the prime construction project. ETCC is doing the lane controllers on the front end plus back office work, while TransCore is supplying the transponders, we were told by Malika Reed Wilkins, director of communications GSRTA.
In addition to the HOT lanes a larger amount is being spent on bus transit improvements including 11 park-&-ride lots, and 82 new buses. About a third of these are going into the I-85 corridor.
Managed Lane Network
For a number of years Georgia DOT and the regional planning organization have been developing a a "Metro Atlanta Managed Lanes System Plan." This has looked at developing a 2+2 HOT lane network by adding one lane and converting another lane to each direction of area expressways inside the I-285 belt route and building two extra lanes outside per direction, some elevated.
Truck-only toll lanes have also been studied for the more heavily truck routes.
Five stages or "Tiers" are laid out for an 1,100 lane-mile network costing $16.2b of which it is estimated about $9b would be self-financing through concessions with investor groups. The most urgent and financeable projects seem to be on the northern side of Atlanta, notable I-75 to the northwest, GA400 north and I-85 to the northeast together with the segment of I-285 that links all three.
This part, Tier 1 is about $3 billion in project cost. Just this set of projects - if they happen - would dwarf the present and previous toll work in the area.
History of GSRTA
GSRTA traces its origins back through various other state toll bridge and road agencies to the 1920s and many toll projects that failed to be constructed. Its one operating toll facility is the GA400 from I-85 north of downtown Atlanta 6.5 miles, 11km to the I-285 belt route and built in the early 1990s. Beyond the I-285 GA400 was an established free road.
GA400-Toll provided an inward extension offering a more direct route to central Atlanta for established traffic from the north.
It opened in 1993 and was one of the first tollroads in the US to have open road tolling - 2 highway speed electronic toll lanes each direction with seven cash or roll-through transponder tolling to the right side, each direction - a total of 18 toll lanes.
Of three travel lanes each direction it is getting some modest improvements - at the south end ramps to and from I-85 on its northward (present connections are to I-85 southward, plus improved merges.
In 2007 before the Great Recession average daily traffic was running just over 110k/day. In 2009 it was down to 102k, drop of nine percent. Tolls are only 50c for cars and the traffic is mostly cars for tolls of $20.1m in 2009.
Toll revenues in FY2009 (to mid-year) were $20.1m with operating costs before depreciation and amortization $7.1m and an EBITDA of $13m.
That's way too little financial heft to help in financing the serious toll lanes network proposed for the region, but provides a basis of expertise that can be drawn on for toll services.
on the I-85 HOT Lanes project: