The El Paso Research and Implementation program at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) assists local, state, federal and international agencies and organizations through the implementation and evaluation of advanced technologies and methodologies, including transportation finance; Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS); border crossings, modeling and simulation; and various international studies. The program provides technology transfer for various agencies at the national and international levels. Visit the Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research.
View a map to the office’s location online.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) was tasked with developing tolling policies for the border region while taking into consideration environmental justice (EJ) as it pertains to the region. TTI analyzed five proposed toll road sections in the border region including Border Highway West (BHW), Cesar Chavez, Americas, IH 10 express lanes, and Northeast (NE) Parkway using an innovative, state-of-the-art, simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) modeling methodology. Two forecast years were analyzed using the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Horizon travel demand model as the foundation for the DTA model analysis. TTI originally converted the MPO’s Mission model to DTA format and then added additional infrastructure to replicate the current MPO validated travel demand model once it became available. TTI analyzed various EJ issues that would be considered issues for economically challenged communities within the border region including social demographics, equity considerations, environmental concerns, mobility, economic cost, community cohesion, and geographic accessibility. Once all EJ issues were analyzed, TTI developed a baseline set of tolling policies for the border region.
Economic Cost of Critical Infrastructure Failure in the El Paso-Juarez Region
TTI researchers developed a simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) model of the El Paso-Juarez border region in order to understand the potential travel effects and subsequent economic costs of an extreme event. Researchers simulated the closure of the Bridge-of-the-Americas (BOTA) and the IH 10/US 54 interchange to see what the economic cost to freight would be immediately after the disruption and the long-term effects after drivers have adapted to alternate routes. TTI developed a method to link the DTA modeling method to a cargo diversion method in order to estimate the number of businesses in the critical path to ultimately calculate first order direct costs. These costs were estimated for the short term immediately following the disruption, but also through the adjustment phase to the new DTA long term run equilibrium. Furthermore, costs were also estimated for the duration of 1 year. Results showed that the total cumulative working year (annual) costs for truck trips by time-of-day were estimated at $29.3 million for the morning peak period, $620 million for the mid-day interval and $264 million for the afternoon peak period. This equates to approximately $30.2 billion in total cumulative direct costs for truck trips.
The Border Crossing Information System (BCIS) measures and disseminates real-time and historic wait and crossing time information captured at seven commercial and one passenger Ports of Entry (POE) across the Texas – Mexico Border. BCIS captures real-time wait and crossing times for commercial vehicles entering the U.S. and wait time for passenger vehicles entering and exiting the U.S. All collected data is archived that allows for the analysis of historic wait and crossing time (i.e., 10 minute and hourly averages, total daily and month delays), the comparison of historic wait and crossing times at different POEs, and the number of transponders in 10-minute, hourly, and daily intervals. BCIS can be accessed at http://bcis.tamu.edu.
The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is a Planning document required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in every area designated as non-attainment for ozone and carbon monoxide. A joint FHWA-FTA review team conducted a review of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) CMP in August of 2010, and prepared a list of recommendations for improvement to the CMP. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s researchers assisted the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization to address these FHWA recommendations and avoid jeopardizing the ability of FHWA and FTA to authorize future added-capacity roadway projects. The output of this project was a document describing in detail a series of enhancements and recommendations that addressed the FHWA-FTA federal requirements, as well as the solutions and alternatives to the current CMP methodology and performance monitoring plan.
Multi-Resolution Modeling Methods for Quantifying Work Zone Impacts into Monetary Values
TTI researchers developed a methodology to derive road user costs (RUCs) using the effects of partial and full closure of an Interstate in both directions. The methodology used a multi-resolution modeling (MRM) method which utilized a traditional travel demand model (macroscopic), a regional dynamic traffic assignment model (mesoscopic) and a localized high fidelity model (microscopic) to derived both vehicle operating costs and vehicle delay costs. The TTI team was tasked with determining the monetary costs incurred by the various work zone locations – using Interstate 10 in El Paso, Texas as a case study. Monetary costs took into consideration the directional volume of traffic, defined time periods, cost of operating a vehicle, the length of each traffic control plan work zone (step) and the implicit value-of-time.
A Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) is a land market-based innovative transportation funding and financing method based on similar principles as Tax Increment Financing. TRZ financing can be simply defined as the means by which transportation infrastructure investment is funded by “capturing” either some or all of the added value of real-estate that results directly from that investment. Texas is one of the first states in the United States to develop a legislative framework that allows local governments (e.g., municipalities and counties) to use TRZs as a mechanism specifically designed to fund and finance transportation infrastructure. Based on a breakthrough combination of GIS, advanced financial modeling tools, and Monte Carlo Simulation, TTI has developed a methodology to evaluate TRZ revenue-generation potential, and has been using it to assist municipalities and counties throughout the state to assess their capacity to fund specific roadway projects through the TRZ mechanism. Since 2009, TTI researchers have also provided training to local agencies in communities, where there is growing interest in using the TRZ mechanism as a part of funding package for transportation infrastructure.
Recently, TTI extended the application domain of its expertise in TRZ computation methodologies to include considerations for multimodal transportation improvements. These considerations include not only impacts of traditional new highway improvements, but also revenue potential estimates for newly developed or improved ports, rails, and transit systems. The current tool resulting from TTI’s extensive research and years of applied experience on a variety of TRZ projects is considered classic in approach, innovative in application, and robust in handling open-data aspects of projections for such funding mechanisms. Incorporating computer simulation, dynamic charting, and visualization with open data-based models for revenue projections will allow municipalities and counties throughout the state and nation to devise innovative ways of investing in transportation improvements, simultaneously making the decision-making process for TRZs more reliable, robust and, accurate.
The areas of expertise of the researchers working through the office include:
- Traffic Engineering and Operations,
- Transit Planning,
- Intelligent Transportation Systems,
- Trade and Transport Facilitation,
- Multi-Modal Transport and Freight Operations,
- Border Crossing,
- Homeland Security,
- Air Quality,
- Infrastructure Finance,
- Public- Private Partnerships, and
- Tolling and Managed Lanes.
The El Paso office maintains cooperative relationships with the following sponsors:
- Texas Department of Transportation–El Paso District,
- University of Texas at El Paso,
- El Paso Metropolitan Area Organization, and
For More InformationJeff Shelton
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
TTI - El Paso
4050 Rio Bravo Drive
El Paso, TX 79902
(915) 521-8106 x14106