The family of S. Edwin (Ed) Rowe has notified ITE that Ed passed away on June 3, 2023. He was 87 years of age. He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Sandra Rowe of Orlando; two daughters, Diane Martinelli and her husband, David, of Orlando, and Catherine Cali of Mission Viejo, CA; and eight grandchildren. Ed was an active member of ITE and participated in many national and international activities related to his technical interests.
At the national level, Ed was active with the Transportation Research Board (TRB). In 1990, he was a recipient of Theodore M. Matson Memorial award which ITE uses to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the practice of traffic engineering. In 1992 LADOT won an award for Innovations in State and Local Government from Harvard University. He was part of many professional organizations including a founding member of ITS America, ITS World Congress, and ITS California. He was well known in the industry for being General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and subsequent to his retirement from the City, for over 15 years of executive management in private industry.
Ed studied systems engineering and intended to be an aerospace engineer. However, after graduation he became aware that the City of Los Angeles Traffic Department was building a team of professional engineers and Ed joined the staff in 1957. He used his knowledge of systems engineering in developing applications of advanced technologies in Transportation. A signature program was developing the City’s automated traffic surveillance and control (ATSAC) system an automated traffic signal system that could use modern and emerging detection, communication and controller technology to automatically respond to fluctuating traffic flows. Ed was able to make his dream a reality as he rose up the ranks at LADOT. He became the General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation in December of 1987 and retired in February 1993.
After retiring from LADOT, Ed started a company partnering with another industry executive and they called it “Gardner-Rowe”. After a few years, he joined Odetics ITS, a company in Orange County with different divisions in technology which later was rebranded as Iteris where he was Sr. Vice President focusing on traffic management and traveler information systems for over 15 years.
With the announcement that the XXIIIrd Olympiad would be hosted by Los Angeles in 1984, federal and local funding was secured to design and implement the Coliseum Traffic Control System to help manage Olympic Games traffic. There was a tight deadline and many challenges but the system went online one month before the start of the Games and was a key feature in the successful management of traffic during the 1984 Olympic Games. ATSAC became the first system in the nation to extensively monitor flows and automatically respond to generate and download new timing plans. Under the favorable reputation of ATSAC and Ed’s leadership, new systems were added to help in other areas of the City, such as Downtown LA, LAX Airport and the Hollywood district. It proved to be an indispensable tool in managing special everts, parades. and emergencies, such as the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The program Ed developed resulted in ATSAC eventually extending Citywide to 4,500 traffic signals.
The professionals of LADOT and other organizations he was associated with post his services at LADOT were fortunate to have worked with him and recognized his high intelligence and technical brilliance. Ed was an outstanding manager, and an excellent “hands-on” transportation engineer. He provided the industry with new ideas, vision, and was laser-focused on goals execution. He inspired and taught staff how to coordinate and undertake major programs. In addition, he was a friendly and personable man who was very easy to approach and willing to mentor. The transportation community will miss him, his legacy and memory will be with us.
The future of the transportation profession depends upon a stable and continuing flow of students who are excited and passionate in the career opportunities afforded by transportation engineering and planning.