The toll system replacement provides RMTA the steps to:
The RMTA completed a $14.5 million Open Road Tolling construction Project on the Downtown Expressway. The project included the installation of three express lanes, westbound only. These express lanes allowed westbound, E-ZPass motorists to maintain near highway speeds along the mainline plaza with no wait and no gates. A toll increase was not required to fund this project and was paid for with existing toll revenue. Since the implementation of the three express lanes, the traffic volume through the E-ZPass only lanes has increased approximately 30% since they first opened in the spring of 2012.
RMTA advertised a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the replacement and upgrade of their toll system on March 24, 2017. RMTA developed the RFP based on toll industry best practices and the information gathered through the Industry Forum and Request for Information to support the specific needs of the RMTA.
On June 21, 2017, RMTA received three qualified proposals. The RMTA evaluation committee reviewed all proposals, conducted interviews, technical evaluations and negotiations. This was a model procurement that provided the “best value” for the RMTA and regional stakeholders. The evaluation committee presented its recommendation to the RMTA Board of Directors, who unanimously approved the resolution to award the Toll System Replacement contract to TransCore, LP. The project contract was fully executed on September 25, 2017.
After months of development and regular design meetings, TransCore will demonstrate its readiness for System installation with the commencement of the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) phase. The intent of the Factory Acceptance Test is to demonstrate and verify the successful integration of the various components of the Tolling System and the adherence to the System design specifications. During FAT, the gated lanes and express lanes are simulated using equipment installed in the RMTA production configuration at TransCore’s testing facilities. Test drivers run through various scenarios to demonstrate express lane activities and traditional lane activities such as E-ZPass transactions, violation camera functions, license plate recognition, coin machine and cash transactions are all properly working and meeting predefined key performance indicators.
RMTA conducted a three-day Industry Forum, the first of its kind, inviting both national and international tolling system integrators and equipment vendors to obtain industry feedback on current trends and innovations within the tolling industry. The Forum provided industry feedback on specific areas, including approaches to replace coin machines, innovations in violations processing and determining key performance indicators, just to name a few. This forum and its one-on-one meetings launched the RMTA’s planning and development phase for the current toll system replacement project Request for Proposals, which advertised in early 2017.
Based on the Toll System replacement design specifications and contract requirements, along with RMTA’s goals and objectives, TransCore will design all aspects of the Toll System’s functionality. The design is intended to be flexible, reusing certain existing components when able, in order to provide a comprehensive System that is the most cost efficient for the RMTA. The System is specifically designed to reduce operating costs and enhance the customer’s experience. The RMTA and TransCore are required to collaborate to develop the Toll System and to deliver the product.
Upon the successful completion of FAT, installation of the toll system will begin in a phased approached. Installation will be staggered between facilities and tolling zones to advance the installation schedule. Work conducted over the roadway will be performed during off peak hours, overnights and weekends to minimize disruptions to our customers. When the installation of individual tolling zones are completed, TransCore will perform additional testing on all installed equipment – the Revenue System Acceptance Test (RSAT). The formal RSAT will consist of data gathering over two phases. Phase one will consist of several days of general operations by passively monitoring roadway users with the roadside detectors, Video Audit System, and overhead gantry equipment. The second phase of the testing will be conducted at night with lane closures to allow for specific system characteristics to be verified under controlled conditions. Examples of this are express lane testing, stop-and-go testing (bumper-to-bumper), and shoulder/straddling behavior, among others.
At the completion of RSAT, the focus is on preparing for receipt of revenue. An intense review by RMTA, TransCore, and their consultants will verify all aspects of the full system. Additional testing will be conducted, as necessary, to ensure all parties are confident that the tolling system is prepared for Toll-Day 1. At the successful completion of RSAT, we will commence formal “go-live” operations and begin revenue service.
The Project Acceptance Test (PAT) is a post “go-live” test that audits the system performance, verifying hardware capacity to conduct routine and abnormal tolling operations, and verifies the performance of the entire toll system. Weekly reports will be reviewed by RMTA providing an update on the status of each subsystem, any anomalies, and corrective action that may be required. After three months of production operations, the formal PAT will be observed by RMTA, and the transition to the full operations and maintenance portion of the contract will be complete.
This is the final milestone for the Toll System Replacement Project. Upon receipt, from TransCore, of all contract deliverables, the RMTA will formally close-out the Toll System Replacement Project and final payment will be issued. At this time, RMTA will enter in the full operations and maintenance portion of the contract. TransCore will continue to provide all day-to-day operations and maintenance of the toll system and will be held responsible for adhering to strict key performance indicators (KPIs) as outlined in the maintenance contract. The KPIs are regularly tracked, monitored and reported to assess TransCore’s performance against the RMTA’s Operations and Maintenance requirements. TransCore is required to take corrective actions to immediately remedy any failures and provide Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) when necessary. Continual monitoring of the toll system ensures the RMTA’s toll system continues to perform per the contract specifications and minimize disruptions and inconveniences to our customers.
In July 2012, the RMTA completed a $14.5 million Open Road Tolling construction project on the Downtown Expressway. The project included the installation of three express lanes, westbound only. These express lanes allowed westbound, E-ZPass motorists to maintain near highway speeds along the mainline plaza with no wait and no gates. A toll increase was not required to fund this project and was paid for with existing toll revenue.
RMTA has set aside sufficient resources in its budget to fully fund the project without the need to increase tolls or issue new debt. The project will be paid for using existing toll revenue. This will allow RMTA to continue to operate efficiently with upgraded toll collection equipment which RMTA relies upon to collect revenue.
RMTA awarded the project contract in September 2017 and anticipates completion of work in the Fall 2019.
The safety of our customers, employees and contractors is our number one priority. During this project the RMTA will keep as many lanes open at all times to help efficiently accommodate daily traffic. The majority of the work in the lanes will occur overnight, on weekends and during off peak hours. The RMTA will attempt to minimize this disruption as much as possible through public announcements via RMTA’s website and media partners.
Enhanced Customer Experience:
Tolls are the only source of revenue for the RMTA. No tax dollars have been used on the RMTA Expressway System. Instead, the tolls are used to pay back bondholders who loaned private capital to finance the Expressway’s construction and for the on-going operation and maintenance of the 52.2 lane-miles.
The toll system upgrade provides RMTA with some initial steps to reduce operational costs while setting the stage to embrace newer technologies and promote E-ZPass as the most cost-effective method of toll payment. This aligns with RMTA’s vision for enhancing customer service, allowing motorists to maintain near highway speeds in the express lanes; similar to the way other toll roads in Virginia and elsewhere operate. Also, the use of express lanes has been proven to improve air quality as vehicle idling times at the toll plaza are significantly reduced.
Last Modified: 10/27/2016
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