Public-Private Partnership Expedites Connected Vehicle Pilot Program Deployment

Public-Private Partnership Expedites Connected Vehicle Pilot Program Deployment
By: Kirk Steudle, Econolite Sr. VP, Systems


In August 2020, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) announced the deployment of connected vehicle technology along 34 intersections of the Ala Moana Boulevard/Nimitz Highway corridor – one of the busiest corridors in the state. The connected vehicle technology is designed to reduce congestion, vehicle emissions, and travel time while increasing safety for all roadway users. In addition, the program provides alerts and other traveler information about the corridor to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians through a free traveler information app. The connected vehicle program deployment was made possible through a public-private partnership between HDOT, University of Hawaii, and Econolite.

The connected vehicle pilot is also part of a research project with the University of Hawaii (UH), Mànoa College of Engineering and Econolite to determine and verify the capabilities of the latest connected traffic control systems and cloud-based Signal Performance Measures (SPM) with a real-time adaptive signal control solution to optimize efficiency and safety along the Ala Moana/Nimitz Highway corridor.

The research component to the connected vehicle project includes access to traffic data that will be continuously collected and researchers who will analyze and study the volume, type, and efficiency of vehicle movements along the corridor. “There were several goals that we wanted to achieve through this project,” said Dr. David Ma, UH College of Engineering Interim Associate Dean and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “One, is wanting to answer several research questions regarding traffic and transportation systems in general. For example, we wanted to see how we can best optimize the system and realize its full potential and benefit all different modes of transportation.”

The Deployment

“For this project, we wanted to make sure we push forward on mobility for everybody. To push more dependability on one of our busiest corridors in the state, Nimitz Highway that turns into Ala Moana Blvd.,” said Ed Sniffen, Deputy Director for Highways HDOT. “We service 50,000 vehicles per day, on a system where we know we have visitors coming through from the airport to Waikiki, we have our residents coming through to work in town, and we have our freight corridor because our harbors are all on this system here. We wanted to make sure that we could make this as efficient as possible, not only for the drivers but also for the pedestrians and bicyclists that use it.”

The project included a very rapid deployment of:

  • 34 new ATC Controllers
  • 720 Detection Zones
  • Centracs Mobility with SPM Edaptive
  • Cybersecurity Deployed
  • CAV Applications and Integration with a mobile traveler app.


Within eight months, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, an ATMS, SPM, adaptive signal control, and V2X solutions were deployed along the Ala Moana/Nimitz Highway corridor. The technology-based deployment provided a turnkey solution that is already yielding improvements. In just a few months, GHG emissions and fuel consumption are down 16 percent, and vehicle arrivals-on-green are up almost nine percent, travel time has decreased 50 percent, and vehicle delays have decreased by 56 percent.  UH College of Engineering is currently validating the results so that peer-reviewed results and benefits of this technology can be published.

Looking Ahead

The public-private partnership between Econolite, HDOT, and University of Hawaii will be looking to leverage this technology in helping optimize traffic management and safety throughout the state. There 800 more signals that make up the rest of the traffic management network on Oahu, and another 300 signals on the neighboring islands. The intention of the public-private partnership is to push this technology forward to ensure the infrastructure is upgraded to address the best interest of the public sooner rather than later. The connected vehicle pilot project represents a proof-point that operationally this kind of technology deployment can have profound positive impacts not only for safer and more efficient travel, but for the environment in the reduction of GHG and fuel consumption.

To learn more about the HDOT connected vehicle program and deployment, be sure to catch the virtual technical panel session: Big Data and Cloud-Based Solutions for Improved TSMO; at this year’s ITE Annual Meeting scheduled for July 27th, beginning at 4 pm (Pacific).