By Randy Iwasaki, Executive Director, Contra Costa Transportation Authority

As our hyper-connected world continues to advance in all areas of mobility — from the solo traveler seeking an on-demand bicycle to the autonomous shuttle — it is more critical than ever that transportation planners, policymakers, and builders be poised to respond to evolving transportation systems.

Strategy Is Everything

Shaping a transportation environment complete with savvy infrastructure that can meet the evolving high-tech needs and nuances of autonomous vehicles is critical to smart, connected communities. By using advanced technology and implementing innovation strategically, communities can enjoy an optimized transportation system with simplified access to reliable mobility options. Real-time, data-driven traffic updates allow travelers to make informed decisions about cost, timing, mode, and route. All of this requires taking a regional view of a transportation system and making thoughtful upgrades to each element while strategizing to make each updated element work together for an integrated transportation solution that makes communities safer and less congested. More and more, our work is requiring us to become technology integrators.

Test, Test, Test

Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum Station joined forces this past March to host the first ever test of an autonomous shuttle on California’s public roads at Bishop Ranch Business Park in San Ramon. This was part of a pilot program, led by CCTA, to test electric, low-speed, multi-passenger autonomous vehicles that are not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, or accelerator.

This inaugural ride on public roads was made possible only after CCTA received permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California DMV and after a series of successful tests at GoMentum Station in Concord, California. Once fully integrated into the transportation network, shared autonomous shuttles can provide safe, accessible service that eases congestion and reduces harmful emissions.

Thoughtful, Efficient Construction

Construction projects have opportunities to benefit from emerging technology as well. In Contra Costa County, engineers are using drones equipped with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) lasers — a surveying tool that uses a laser to create high-resolution geographical data. This emerging technology is new to the construction industry and opens countless possibilities for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and related jobs in the future. LiDAR scanners can measure the volumes of earth that need to be moved to help ensure taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. It also allows us to keep our people safer by enabling us to survey more efficiently without them having to stand on the side of the road and be exposed to traffic.

To learn more about the current projects in Contra Costa County, visit www.ccta.net/planning/transportation/158.

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