Penn Pike issues RFP for I-80 toll system - bids due in five weeks

August 8, 2008

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is charging ahead with procurement of toll systems for I-80. They have just issued an request for proposals (RFP) with a deadline just five weeks away. No prebid meetings and qualifying of contractors, just a deadline for questions of Aug 15, and then bids due Sept 15.

"This is a real fast track," said one toll systems guy we asked about it.

The 141 page RFP document titled "Open Road Electronic Toll Collection System on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania" is dated August 1 but we are told it has only popped up on the Turnpike Commission's website a day or two ago. There has been no announcement of the RFP, although purchase of toll systems would seem to be newsworthy when the tolling scheme is controversial, and still subject to approval by the US Government.

The RFP asks for proposals to design, procure and install:

- overhead ORT (open road toll) gantries

- roadside equipment and sensors

- data and communications cabling between the toll sites and utility buildings

- providing power connections

- hardware, firmware and software

- technical, operational and maintenance support

The I-80 toll system will be integrated in the Turnpike's Commission's Central Host computers and servers in the main offices in Highspire near Harrisburg. The RFP calls for reader and support equipment to cover a minimum of two travel lanes unobstructed in each direction at ten toll zones. (The Commission has since said it expects to only need nine toll zones.)

Video image capture will be front and rear of vehicles.

Vehicle classification on I-80 will be based on axle count (unlike the Mainline which is weight based) almost certainly an electromagnetic loop system.

A Digital Video Monitoring System (DVMS) will do correlation - associating transaction messages (toll plaza, lane, date, time, vehicle classification, toll) with the images.

Interestingly this could be interpreted to require a lane based ORT system such as supplied by TransCore, ETCC, Telvent Caseta, UTS or ACS as opposed to a frame-based system supplied by Raytheon which covers the whole roadway and tracks regardless of lane.

I-80 toll data will all be sent and processed at the Commission's central customer service center and video processing in the Harrisburg area.

A maintenance online monitoring system (MOMS) will be required.

The RFP does say (p7) that execution of a contract "is contingent upon Federal Approval of Tolling Interstate 80." (caps in the RFP)

The RFP says that the Commission or others will do some of the civil works connected with the toll systems an will supply some equipment including:

- removal of concrete and rebar in the toll zones and its replacement with more loop friendly pavement

- tests, design and constructions of gantry foundations and erection of gantries

- roadside buildings at toll sites

- conduit and electrical load centers

- barrier protections for gantries and other toll equipment

- purchase and supply of electronic toll readers and antennas

- design, purchase and install standby power

- routers and communications infrastructure to link toll points with the Turnpike's central computers

- signs and lighting required on the approaches to the toll zones

Gantry design must provide for future widening of I-80 from 4 travel lanes to six.

Functional requirements (p39 on) seem pretty standard with coverage of travel lanes and shoulders, tracking and correlation of vehicles across the whole roadway, cameras that don't distract motorists with their illuminators. The system will support a flagrant violator alert to allow police to pull over the big debtors.

30 days of data must be capable of being stored at the roadside toll points in case of central servers or links going out.

The RFP notes that the E-ZPass Inter Agency Group (IAG) cooperative may move away from Mark IV readers due the present recompete of Mark IV's exclusive contract and that the design of tolling zone controllers and other equipment must allow for a transition to new front-end technology. The cost of any such transition will be separately negotiated at the time.

The I-80 vehicle classes will be different from the weight based system on the East-West Mainline of the Turnpike, but like those used on newer parts - see Table 3.

Vehicle speeds must be measured to within an accuracy of 1mph and recorded at all toll points. (p42)

Vehicles not equipped with a functioning transponder will all be photographed digitally and the images sent to the data center. They will derive the license plate characters with automatic optical character recognition (OCR) along with an estimate of confidence level. That is to allow low confidence level character sets to be reviewed by a human.

Performance requirements are specified at speeds from zero (stopped traffic) to 100mph (160km/hr).

The basic vehicle detection and reporting must work to at least 99.97% success rate.

Incorrect association or correlation must be <0.1%.

Transponder read rates must be over 99.99%.

Failure to capture a readable plate image must be <0.2%.

Failure to get a correct OCR read must be <10% and incorrect OCR <1%.

Vehicle class accuracy of >99.75% must be attained.

The system must be capable of bursts of 4 toll transactions per second for up to 15 seconds and 4800/hour and 120k/day in two travel lanes.

image capture in the same two travel lanes needs to be 4 sets/second for 5 seconds, 2000/hour and 25k/day.

The system will have a minimum design life of ten years.

Equipment will have minimum mean time between failure ranging between 10k hours and 30k hours with maximum mean time to repair of 1 hour.

Potential improvements on these reliabilities are to be mentioned by proposers.

All toll zones are to go live at once.

The target schedule is:

2008-12-17 Notice to proceed

2009-06-16 Factory acceptance

2009-07-29 Gantry deliveries to all sites

2010-03-19 Installation & testing complete at Eastern Site 1

2010-07-23 Installation & testing complete at Western Sire 3

2010-10-23 Operational tests successful, final system approval

"Prevailing wage" rates must be paid, including fringes hourly:

- boilermakers $61.07

- electricians $44.58

- ironworkers $53.37

- laborers $28.33 to $32.62

- operators $41.61 to $48.60

- carpenters $31.76

TransCore favorite

TransCore has to be regarded as a favorite to gain this toll systems contract because of its longstanding relationship with the Turnpike - going back to 1940s when as Syntonic it operated radio communications for the Turnpike through the 1980s when it took over IBM's toll equipment and systems when Big Blue pulled out of tolling.

In more recent years TransCore has done almost all the E-ZPass installations for the Turnpike, including highway speed open road toll equipment at Warrendale at the western end of the Turnpike and at the Mid County Interchange north of Philadelphia.

TransCore operates the customer service center for the Turnpike's E-ZPass accounts, dispatch of transponders, telephone call center and violations out of a facility in the eastern part of Harrisburg PA. It also services the Turnpike's electronic toll equipment.

ACS of Dallas TX got a small toll systems job on one of the lightly trafficked Pittsburgh area extensions.

TransCore has its head offices at Hummelstown PA on the eastern outskirts of Harrisburg although its major facilities are in Dallas TX, Albuquerque NM, and San Diego CA.

A former president of TransCore John H Foote - no longer connected to TransCore and independently wealthy - has been outspoken in support of the Turnpike Commission, authoring articles on its side in the recent controversies over Governor Rendell's move for a private concession.

see RFP

ENGLISH: In a peculiar English usage the RFP says in its opening sentences that the contractor is to "secure" staff when surely they mean "supply" "provide" "engage" or "employ" staff. Only naturally insecure items like livestock, prisoners, truck loads, slaves, wildlife, maybe reporters, need to be secured. Otherwise the RFP looks to be a thorough and professionally written document.

Other major US toll system RFPs

Other major toll system procurements presently in train or imminent are:

- Ohio Turnpike first electronic toll system, fully lane constrained

- open road tolling on I-78 and I-80 bridges of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

- North Carolina Turnpike Authority all-electronic tolling for the Triangle Expressway and Mid Currituck Sound bridge

- Maryland open road tolling for iCC and I-95 toll lanes

- Miami Dade expressways all-electronic toll conversion

- Bay Area HOV to HOT conversion

- Los Angeles four major HOV to HOT conversions

- Miami I-95/595 toll lanes

- I-5 toll bridge OR/WA

- new WA520 toll bridge Seattle

- TX183A conversion to AET, new AET system for US290 CTRMA Austin

- E470 Colorado converting to all-electronic

- Pocahontas Parkway and Capital Beltway VA  Transurban all-electronic

- Mass Turnpike abruptly cancelled a toll system procurement, but it will be back, rejigged

- York Toll Plaza Maine all-electronic likely

- I-93 Big Dig in downtown Boston

(The last is not official but it is so logically compelling it just has to happen.)

TOLLROADSnews 2008-08-08

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