April 27, 2017 Meeting

The seventh meeting of the 2016-2017 year took place at the Mississippi Department of Transportation traffic management center in Jackson, MS.

Meeting Minutes

Call to Order
The seventh meeting of the 2016-2017 AMS/NWA chapter was called to order at 1:10pm by NWA President Eric Carpenter. The meeting was held at the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Jackson, MS.

Recording Secretary Joanne Culin recorded those in attendance, with ten people present.

Minutes Approval
Given the meeting location and topic, minutes were not summarized and no other chapter business was discussed.

New Business
Since there was no business part of the meeting, Treasurer David Cox shared the treasury report via email. On the date of meeting, there was no change to our totals in the treasury of $268.29. One member paid dues later on April 28th and the total was now at $288.29. The total number of members remained at 18 with 15 regular members and 3 student members.

John Gilligan (Traffic Engineering) conducted most of the tour, though Morgan Miller was in attendance and worked to set up the meeting. John showed their traffic camera system and indicated that we could have access to this for the National Weather Service. There are 632 cameras across the state. If they see something on the camera, they act on it and communicate that info to the public and the appropriate jurisdiction. They have also outfitted the MS River bridges with MDOT technology (RWIS stations) and this information is displayed on the public website and polls every 15 minutes. Louisiana is responsible for the maintenance of the Vicksburg bridge. The main surface conditions they want to know are icing, standing water and anything that tells them the impact to motorists on the road. A fog system is being installed on the bridge on I-10 in Pascagoula. It shoots a laser and analyzes particles in the air. If it detects enough, then it will determine the visibility.

MDOT provides email alerts and the most asked for is weather alerts. They use big signs and road sensors to alert of ice, and they don’t use people driving around as much as in the past. With regard to the Stack and I-220, MDOT defers to local police to shut down these roads and others if they want to and this removes liability. MDOT generally won’t use the terms “road closed” for anything other than construction.

They use exclusively the NWS forecasts as the only one used to communicate to the public rather than trying to get info from many different sources. They like using the past and forward info that some radar displays can show to know when storms are gone. Tornado warnings go on highway signs. If the warning is for one county in the Jackson metro, it will state the county. If for two or more, it will be more general and state that there is a warning in effect. Confirmed tornado information can be passed to that district because there might be debris on the road and they can check it out. They like the idea of telling them mile markers of where tornadoes might cross, like the NWS does with MHP.

MDOT will call in extra people for hurricanes but not for severe weather. There is a minimum of two people there all the time. Their system, INRIX, is like Google maps traffic but faster. It is used to find out information in areas that don’t have cameras. They still need to confirm information before releasing to the public.

There is no archiving of camera videos, that would take up a lot of space! However, they get calls from lawyers all the time asking for that. Cameras are really for traffic management but law enforcement wants it all the time.

DOT budget is 80% federal money and 20% state money. Their shifts run from 6am-2pm, 2m-10pm and 10pm-6am. There are two other traffic management centers in the state, which are solely 6am-6pm: in Hattiesburg and on Highway 49 north of I-10.

Mr. Gilligan allowed the group to watch some of the dispatchers and look at the wall of cameras.

The meeting concluded at 2:30 pm, and it was adjourned.

Minutes were submitted by Joanne Culin, Recording Secretary.

April 27, 2017 Meeting

MDOT Traffic Engineer John Gilligan discusses operations in the MDOT traffic management center.

For more pictures from this meeting, click here.

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