Fontana/Ontario Advanced Traffic Management Information System:

localized ITS applications-freeway/arterial integration


John C. Sickler, PE    

Iteris Program Manager

Fontana/Ontario ATMIS     


Paul Balbach

Principal Transportation Engineer

City of Fontana, California


Abi Mogharabi


Meyer, Mohaddes Associates, Inc.


The Cities of Fontana and Ontario are two medium sized cities located approximately 40 miles to the east of downtown Los Angeles in the western edge of San Bernardino County. Located at the crossroads of two major interstates (I-15 and I-10) supporting commuters, travelers, and commerce in and out of Southern California, these two cities are experiencing rapid growth in both housing and commercial development.


The expansion of the Ontario International Airport, the Ontario Convention Center, the opening of the Ontario Mills Mall, and the development of the California Speedway are just a few of the major event generators that have opened over the past few years. To help combat the increase in traffic caused by the major event generators and to manage traffic more efficiently within the city boundaries, the two cities have joined forces and are working with Caltrans as well as the Southern California Priority Corridor to implement ITS technology.


Fontana and Ontario have issued a design-build contract to assist in centralizing traffic management functions and to disseminate Traveler Information throughout the affected region. The project will develop Traffic Management functions in the City of Fontana by implementing a centralized traffic signal system; adding CCTVs to key intersections, VMSs to strategic areas of the city, and a localized HAR system; and integrating an Automatic Vehicle Location system in the police patrol vehicles. The Traffic Management Center will control the elements of the system and will be one of the first deployments of the Southern California Priority Corridor “Kernel” software. This will allow coordination of operations and information sharing between a regional Traffic Management Center and a Caltrans district system gathering information on the local freeways, facilitating freeway-arterial integration. The information gathered by the two systems will be disseminated through the use of various media in the Ontario-Fontana region and eventually beyond.


The project, once completed, will facilitate the integration of operations and become the foundation of a “Smart Corridor” along I-10 in the Southern California region.


Framing the issue

The west end of San Bernardino County is experiencing incredible growth and will continue to be the final destination for new distribution centers, entertainment opportunities, housing, and jobs. When combining the opening of the California Speedway; the proposed truck stop on the Kaiser Ventures property (in addition to the other truck stops in the area); the expansion of the Ontario International Airport; and the opening of the Ontario Convention Center-with the fact that many of the existing transportation facilities in the region are antiquated-it becomes clear that something must be done to manage the increased traffic congestion that this region will experience in the very near future.


However, development activities are not the only facet impacting traffic. There are also multiple transportation improvements planned that will have a negative impact on congestion during construction phases. These include the proposed Sierra/I-10 interchange improvement, the Cherry/I-10 interchange improvement, route 30 construction, the Cypress overpass, I-10 HOV construction, and improvements to arterials like Slover Avenue. However, once complete, these improvements, combined with the ATMIS (Advanced Traffic Management Information System) project, will provide the backbone for a “Smart Corridor” along I-10.


Helping to manage the problem

Management of these traffic challenges requires the ability to view traffic conditions in real time, alter timing patterns dynamically, detect and confirm incidents quickly, efficiently dispatch public safety resources to incidents, and disseminate congestion information to the motoring public to avoid aggravation of the congestion problem. To achieve this level of congestion management, the ATMIS project develops the following elements under Phase I of the project.


·        Intersection Control Upgrades

·        Central Traffic Management Center (TMC)

·        Automatic Vehicle Location for police vehicles

·        Traveler Information Dissemination devices (Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio)

·        Communication Backbone

·        Integration with Caltrans District 8 TMC


Phase II activities focus on the expansion of the coverage area around the California Speedway and the development of the Traveler Information Center (TIC) in the city of Ontario. The TIC development efforts are scheduled for Phase II to allow definition and consensus building around traveler information dissemination in the Inland Empire.


With these basic elements in place, the ATMIS system will provide traffic management functionality for use during special events at the California Speedway and during construction activities. In providing the communication backbone to accommodate central control of signals and “real-time” viewing of congestion, the ATMIS system will allow dynamic adjustment of signal timing patterns to assist the day-to-day management of the arterials in the coverage area. The AVL system will allow more efficient distribution of limited police resources on a day-to-day basis while improving personal safety for the officers and improving the response times for the residents and businesses of the community. Through integration with Caltrans, the ATMIS will allow coordination between the arterial and freeway networks.


The elements of the system


Traffic Signal Control. In conformance with the National ITS Architecture, a modular traffic control architecture is proposed to provide the ability to coordinate various arterial corridors to increase mobility and safety. The emergence of national standards for communicating with intersection controllers enables the deployment of various types of intersection control strategies and devices.


The Hybrid Central/Distributed Control Central Monitoring approach accommodates incremental deployment of intersection control and monitoring and allows enhancements of the central control software to accommodate coordination between subregions. Field controllers will communicate with the existing regional controllers or new communication hubs at a lower data rate. The data can then be multiplexed and communicated with the central at a higher data rate. This approach minimizes the number of communications links for the overall system.


The distributed architecture in conjunction with standardized field controller communications protocols also allows the mixed use of advanced intersection signal controllers with traditional controllers. Advanced video system detection can be integrated into the overall signal control system and operated transparently to the central control software. In addition, the use of video detection at intersections provides the opportunity to transmit video images back to the control center thus minimizing the need for separate video surveillance deployment.


Central Traffic Management Center (TMC). The Traffic Management Center (TMC) is the heart of the ATMIS system in Fontana. In providing staff with the capability to view real-time video as well as process and display congestion data, the TMC can be used to alter timing plans and dispatch emergency response vehicles quicker than traditional methods. By integrating this system with remote traveler information devices, the TMC can warn travelers about the choke points in the transportation system, thereby avoiding additional congestion. Software will be developed and/or acquired to provide users of the TMC with the capability to select cameras, view the video imagery, control the cameras, edit messages to the Variable Message Signs, edit messages to the Highway Advisory Radio, select timing plans, and view a congestion data overlay on a local map. Software interfaces will also accommodate the exchange of data and control with Caltrans District 8 Freeway Management System and other local traffic management systems in the future.


Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL). Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) for the fleet of police vehicles is a critical element of this project which will help the city more effectively use public safety resources as well as manage traffic through the city. The City of Fontana is completing the first phases of a police computer network upgrade that will increase the Police Department’s effectiveness through the use of technology. AVL and upgraded Mobil Data Computers have been planned as later phases of this technology investment.


Traveler Information Dissemination. The ability to warn motorists of potential problems is one of the ways that ITS improves public safety while reducing congestion. From traffic reports on the radio to changeable message signs along the way, real-time congestion information can be provided to the motorist to help direct them away from problem areas on the road. This is a key element to the ATMIS system. Included within the original project scope are portable variable message signs and highway advisory radios. Both of these elements will be controlled remotely from the Traffic Management Center.


Variable message signs (VMS) are used to provide quick information to the traveler as they pass a location. Directional information, alternate route information, warnings, and speed are a few of the items that can be delivered to the traveler.


For the ATMIS project, these VMSs play a critical role around the special event generators. The project concept envisions portable VMSs that can be deployed around the special event generators. Each VMS will be programmed separately using cellular/radio communications for remote programming or at the VMS manually. As congestion levels build up along certain routes, the VMS can be re-programmed to redirect travelers. This feature will be important around the California Speedway as well as construction activities planned for the I-10 overpasses and state route 30.


The Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) is a limited range radio system that allows travelers in the immediate area to tune their car stereos to the appropriate frequency and receive traffic updates. Instead of having to wait for traffic reports on the local radio station, the traveler near the California Speedway will be informed in real time that the Cherry off-ramp from the I-10 is backed up. The HAR will be used to re-direct the traveler away from the I-10 Cherry off-ramp to use I-15 & Baseline and approach the speedway from the north.


Integration with Caltrans District 8 TMC. The integration between the City of Fontana TMC and Caltrans allows the sharing of key traffic information to enhance current traffic management functions. The intertie not only shares data, but also shares limited control of each agency’s TMC. By providing this capability, the ATMIS will establish the technical capability for executing a “Smart Corridor” along the I-10 freeway in the eastern portion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.


The integration of the Caltrans and Fontana systems will form the foundation for integrated freeway/arterial coordination in the Inland Empire region of Southern California and will pave the way for the addition of regional Traffic Management Centers in the western San Bernardino and Riverside County areas of Southern California.


Ontario Traveler Information Center (TIC) Development. With the integration of multiple information sources over a wide area, the Traveler Information Center (TIC) development will enable travelers to draw from a vast array of data to assist their travels. Additionally, the Traveler Information Center developed in the city of Ontario will establish the standard for information dissemination in the Inland Empire. Once implemented, the Ontario TIC will then be able to interface to the Showcase network and exchange traveler information from not only the Inland Empire but from throughout the Southern California region. This center will become the traveler information clearinghouse with dissemination outlets anticipated at the Ontario International Airport, Ontario Convention Center, Local Cable TV services, automated telephone, and the Internet.


ATMIS future opportunities

The Fontana/Ontario ATMIS project is the foundation for ITS deployment in the west end of the San Bernardino County. With the development of the Fontana TMC, Ontario TIC, and integration to the Caltrans TMC, elements are in place to develop a “Smart Corridor” along the I-10 freeway. The Smart Corridor concept establishes coordination between local arterial traffic management and the freeway management system. When an incident occurs on the freeway, previously-agreed-upon congestion management plans are implemented that will alter timing plans and direct traffic away from the incident. Alternate routes along parallel arterials will be established.


In addition to incident management, the integration between the various management centers will promote coordination of traffic flow across jurisdictional boundaries. Thus, traffic flow will be seamless between communities and the state controlled freeway system. Also, signal timing will be established to maintain efficient traffic movement across all modes of the network. Consequently, non-recurring congestion will be managed through pre-planning and preparation, rather than through reaction.


For more information, contact John C. Sickler at (714) 780-7231 or; Paul Balbach at (909) 350-7629 or; or Abi Mogharabi at (714) 780-7711.