New York’s Lower Hudson Transit Link (LHTL) program is aimed at modernizing and enhancing transit systems and operations on the I-287 corridor between Rockland and Westchester Counties. This multimodal, multi-phase program leverages a combination of strategies, ranging from ramp metering to adaptive signal control to fibre optic communications, to significantly improve the movement of traffic and enhance safety and sustainability. Arup’s integrated planning experts in New York have led the program throughout its development.
Arup’s involvement in transit planning for the I-287 corridor started in 2012 when the firm was asked to serve as the technical director of the Mass Transit Task Force (MTTF), a 31-member panel convened by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to address mobility issues along the corridor. With Arup’s help, the MTTF developed the plan that ultimately became the Lower Hudson Transit Link. The program, officially launched in 2015, is slated for completion in 2022. As the project reaches significant construction milestones, LHTL is on track to reach its goals of improving the availability, accessibility, and quality of transit services in the Lower Hudson Valley; reducing travel times for buses and all vehicles along the I-287 corridor and the parallel Routes 59 and 119; and increasing access to jobs, housing, and other transportation options.
26 miles of robust and resilient fiber optic network
Largest ICM corridorin New York State
1,000 new and existing Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) equipment and infrastructure
A leading-edge ICM
In December 2020, Arup joined New York State’s Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in celebrating a major project milestone—the establishment of LHTL’s sophisticated integrated corridor management (ICM) system. Featuring New York State’s largest intelligent transportation system (ITS), the ICM will help NYSDOT mitigate a range of traffic issues and increase roadway capacity along the corridor without necessitating capital-intensive roadway expansions.
Improving efficiency, reliability, and safety
The project integrates a complex array of systems and infrastructure upgrades that work together to smooth the movement of traffic, reduce accidents, and improve pedestrian safety. For instance, the region’s first ramp meters have been rolled out to streamline the flow of cars onto the highway and reduce the occurrence of crashes. Adaptive signal control (ASC) helps ease traffic congestion and improve safety by adjusting signal timing in response to changing traffic demands and patterns. The project also deployed HAWK signals and flashing beacons to improve pedestrian safety.
When completed, the ITS will feature 124 new and upgraded traffic signals, 26 miles of fiber optic communications, 32 variable message signs (VMS), 117 detectors, 13 ramp meters, 42 CCTV cameras, 26 bus shelters, 2 HAWK signals, and 5 flashing beacons—all of which were designed and provided construction support by the Arup team.
The updated corridor effectively augments the capacity and efficiency of the corridor’s transit network without widening its roadways, thus preserving green space, saving public dollars, and reducing pollution. For instance, high capacity transit modes, like buses, receive priority signals at transit signal priority (TSP) locations. Buses can also use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the ramp meters and drive on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge dedicated bus lane.
Designing a flexible and resilient transit network
Delivering an unprecedented increase in fiber capacity and geographic range, LHTL’s fibre optic network is designed with the future in mind. Arup developed the fiber network and ITS systems to make future NYSDOT expansions easier, as well as to support the trial and rollout of emerging technologies. To create this robust communications network, Arup helped facilitate agreements between several stakeholders, leveraging existing capital investments and identifying opportunities to help NYSDOT address a variety of construction and environmental constraints.
Modernizing the region’s transportation network
A state-of-the-art operations infrastructure was designed to facilitate real-time data collection and response to incidents. Arup designed an update to the region’s advanced traffic management system (ATMS) that included a decision support system (DSS), which enables the region’s Transportation Management Center (TMC) and other first responders (police, EMT, etc.) to quickly coordinate and respond.
Bus passengers and drivers will also benefit from the availability of information on real time conditions on the corridor. VMSs will be used to provide travel time estimates at various destinations along the I-287 route, bus shelters will list estimated bus arrival times, and VMSs installed in several bus shelter parking lots will give drivers information on lot availability.
Already setting precedent
With phase three of construction still underway, LHTL’s ICM corridor is already being lauded as the way of the future, with Shailen Bhatt, President & CEO of ITS America, telling attendees of 2020’s ITS-New York Conference that “[LHTL’s] ITS deployment should be modeled nationwide, based on its design to accommodate future technology and expansion.” This sentiment was echoed by Arup’s client, NYSDOT. “What’s really exciting to think about, even beyond all the technology deployments that are nearing completion, are the operational benefits in the future yet foreseen,” said NYSDOT Project Manager Kevin Novak.
Meeting NYSDOT’s goals for this complex program required tight coordination among Arup staff, subconsultants and other stakeholders. It also demanded a commitment to innovative thinking and excellence. “Throughout the planning, design, and implementation, our planners and thought leaders looked for ways to maximize the program’s social and environmental benefits and our engineers challenged themselves to deliver a robust ITS deployment capable of meeting the evolving demands of technologies and ITS systems well into the future,” said Arup Project Manager Paul Maye.