UPPER MERION — A groundbreaking ceremony was held Aug. 20 to highlight the start of construction on the nearly $50 million District 6 Regional Traffic Management Center and parking structure on the existing PennDOT Engineering District 6 office property.
The new PennDOT District 6 center will expand the existing facility’s capabilities by providing a larger and more modern facility for the management of PennDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems, officials said.
“The five-county Philadelphia Region has more than half of the state’s ITS, which shows how important this project is to our regional traffic management efforts,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “This larger, more modern facility will expand our capabilities for managing safety and traffic flow.”
“The new RTMC will be the technical and institutional hub to bring together the various regional jurisdictions, multimodal transportation interests, and service providers to focus on the common goal of optimizing the performance of our area’s transportation networks,” said PennDOT District 6 Executive Kenneth McClain.
On hand for the groundbreaking were Gramian, McClain, Senate Transportation Chairman Sen. John Sabatina, state Rep. Tim Hennessey and Upper Merion Township Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Bill Jenaway.
The project scope includes the design and construction of a new building for the RTMC, a precast open parking structure, as well as a fit-out of the existing RTMC space. The footprint of the RTMC building will be over the western portion of the existing parking structure located on the PennDOT District 6 office property. The existing parking structure will be demolished and a new, separate parking structure will be constructed. The new RTMC facility will be a two-story office building and the new parking structure will accommodate approximately 250 parking spaces with an estimated, according to the release.
The entire project is expected to take roughly two years to complete.
As PennDOT moves to aggressively perform Transportation System Management and Operations responsibilities, a larger and more modern facility was deemed essential to the organization’s plans. The new RTMC will allow PennDOT to operate Advanced Traffic Management Systems such as Variable Speed Limits, Flex Lanes, Queue Detection and Warning Systems and Ramp Metering Operations.
In addition, it will serve as the Incident Command Center and provide seating for coordinating partner agencies such as Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, City of Philadelphia, Delaware River Port Authority, Pennsylvania National Guard, counties, municipalities, and others during major incidents, special events, inclement weather or catastrophic highway events.
The first PennDOT 6 Traffic Management Center opened in St. Davids, Delaware County, in October 1993. The TMC began by operating a network of 12 closed-circuit television cameras and four dynamic message signs using leased communication lines. In January 2000, the TMC moved to its current location in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, and began operating Expressway Service Patrols, which currently helps over 16,000 motorists a year.
In 2005, the TMC expanded its operations and was upgraded to the first RTMC in Pennsylvania and began operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently, the RTMC operates over 50 percent of PennDOT’s ITS devices, including 437 Closed Circuit TV cameras, 195 Dynamic Message Signs, over 700 sensors/readers for travel time and incident detection.
PennDOT anticipates that the number of field devices will double due to increased investments in advanced technology, including connected and autonomous vehicle strategies. PennDOT will also work with various municipalities to move toward owning and operating traffic signals, known as the Green Light-Go traffic signal initiative aimed at improving safety and traffic flow.
“These added responsibilities will require additional staff and facility support,” said Gramian. “This groundbreaking puts us another step closer to improving traffic flow and being an even better partner to our emergency response agencies.”
The new center’s proposed digital video wall architecture will increase the capacity of video feeds, and seamlessly display both data and video to provide situational awareness necessary for improved response time and decision-making, the release added. Video sharing and incident coordination with other stakeholders, partner agencies and the public will be greatly improved with the new ability to transcode more video, at higher speed and quality than the current system. The new data network will be more robust and offer a much greater throughput, which will facilitate more efficient collection and dissemination of traffic incident data to the public and partner agencies.
In addition to improving its operation, PennDOT is also looking to enhance the new facility’s efficiency and aims to achieve Silver status in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design throughout the design and construction process.
Schrader Group Architecture is the design professional, Heim Construction Co., serving as the construction contractor on the $49,213,919 project that is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. Construction of the RTMC is financed with both federal and state funds, with construction of the parking structure being financed with 100 percent state funds.
Physical construction will begin with the contractor excavating the site and putting in the foundations for the new parking structure.
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