Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall-Winter 2018

12 • Colorado Public Works Journal by Robert Davis April 27, 2014. Four miles south of Fairplay. Kristin Hopkins, a mother from Highlands Ranch, drives her car off of Red Hill Pass. The car is airborne for 120 feet and rolls for another 200 feet. No longer visible from the highway, the car lands on its roof and is pinned in an aspen grove. SMARTER ROADS: and a Safer City Images © Integrated Roadways For five days, Hopkins wonders how she will survive. On the sixth day, she scribbles a note on the inside of an umbrella and sticks it out the window. “Thirsty + hungry,” the note read. “Six days no food or water.” “Please help. Can’t get doors open.” “Need doctor. Hurt and bleeding.” Luckily, a couple driving down Red Hill Pass saw the reflection of her taillights. They called emergency responders to the scene, not knowing the woman inside was still alive. Authorities said there were no skid marks or other indicators that might have let someone know Hopkins had driven off of the road. According to the Good Samaritans who spotted the overturned car, they just happened to look at the right place at the right time. Emergency crews were shocked to find the mother clinging to life. She was badly injured, dehydrated, and faded in and out of con- sciousness, according to local reports. Hopkins lost both of her feet while recovering from the accident, but escaped the perilous situation with her life. “If someone drives off of a mountain pass, it’s typically by the grace of God that someone sees them in time to be rescued,” said Amy Ford, chief of advanced mobility for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). “That’s why we’ve become so invested in making our roads safer for the travelling public. Especially in rural parts of the state.” In the four years since the harrowing crash, CDOT has put Colorado on the forefront of how technology can be used to advance trans- portation safety. The Department created RoadX to explore how connected technology can make roadways safer. And now, the Department may be on the precipice of delivering safer roads after partnering with Integrated Roadways, a start-up from Kansas City, Missouri, to test their smart pavement in Denver. A Smart(er) Revolution In the early 1990s, the federal government researched ways technol- ogy can make roadways safer. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) established the Advanced Public Transportation Systems Pro- gram which studied three types of systems: smart traveler technology, smart vehicle technology, and smart intermodal systems. Research conducted in these systems led to the creation of many technologies travelers use today including GPS and lane assist technology. But, there was one development missing from the federal research programs, according to Tim Sylvester, chief executive and founder of Integrated Roadways. The federal programs never figured out the value of accurately collecting traffic data. “I think that from an internal basis in a department of transportation, having more and better data is going to be enormous,” Sylvester said. “Knowing where traffic is, and how it is, in real time with all data records digitized for the department to look over historically can breed so many new insights both for roadways and the community in general.” The ability to collect this kind of data is what attracted CDOT to Integrated Roadways in the first place, according to Ford. Integrated Roadway’s smart pavement has data collection capabilities built into its infrastructure similar to Google and Facebook. This allows the technology to collect traffic information that greatly benefits the deci- sion making of city planners, real estate developers, and entrepreneurs. Typically, traffic reports are very expensive and not very detailed. The reports often tell what amount of cars or people pass a particular area, but fail to mention when, where, why, and at what time of day. Sylvester admits that this technology has the potential to collect even more data, but those features won’t be deployed while the technol- ogy is being tested with CDOT. “Right now, we’re looking at this as a way to increase public safety,” Ford said. “Too much technology has a strictly urban focus whereas Integrated Roadways’ product can serve Colorado’s rural residents just as well as Denverites.” Integrated Roadways’ smart pavement also has the ability to connect cars to Wi-Fi, alert emergency responders of an accident or a car leaving the roadway, melt snow, and deice roadways. Sylvester says Integrated Roadways plans to show CDOT all of the product’s capabilities, even though they are only testing it in a smaller capacity on Brighton Boulevard. Tradition Takes a Back Seat Developing a technology with as much promise as smart pavement has doesn’t happen overnight, Sylvester said. In fact, it doesn’t happen alone either. “I was approached by the Missouri Department of Transportation to find a way to use Information Technology to help finance their roadway maintenance,” Sylvester said. “They were having problems affording their basic liabilities.” Missouri isn’t the only state with infrastructure problems. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card, “The U.S. has been underfunding its highway system for years, resulting in $836 billion backlog of highway and bridge capital needs.” Sylvester estimates that nearly 90 percent of America’s roadways