First publishedin ITS International
US/Mexico crossing at San Ysidro. Pictures: Claus G.Wolf
State-of-the-art ITS technologies are being deployed for tracking of commercial vehicles at the US-Mexico border in Arizona, reports Pete Goldin
The border between the US and Mexico may be the epitome of America's wild west, but this remote desert frontier is being tamed by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) with a state-of-the-art ITS system. A comprehensive port-of-entry (POE) screening system is being deployed at the Mariposa Port of Entry – one of the busiest land ports in the nation – at the border crossing near Nogales, Arizona, to track commercial vehicles.
The Mariposa Port of Entry serves as the main entry point for fresh produce entering the US from Mexico. It is also a key link in the CANAMEX Trade Corridor, a freight transportation route linking Mexico, the US and Canada which is considered a high priority corridor by the US government.
The POE system will pre-screen vehicles that pass over each of the seven lanes at the border crossing. This new cutting-edge solution serves as an excellent example of the essential role ITS can play in transportation management at border crossings.
“When deployed at international border crossings, ITS technologies benefit both the commercial vehicle operators and carriers as well as the enforcement agencies by allowing compliant vehicles to be identified in real time so they can cross the borders with minimal delay,” says Randy Hanson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of International Road Dynamics
(IRD), based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. ADOT awarded IRD
the US$1.8M contract as the sole ITS vendor to build the port-of-entry screening system.
“ITS technologies in combination with electronic screening and agency specific business rules enable enforcement agencies to specifically tailor their strategies for non-compliant vehicles, resulting in the most effective use of resources,” Hanson adds.
The screening system, which is expected to be in place at Mariposa Port of Entry this Spring, includes weigh-in-motion (WIM) scales, license plate readers (LPR), USDOT
readers, automatic vehicle identification (AVI), and an upgraded EPIC (Expedited Processing at International Crossings) system.
Its implementation is being funded through the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Programme, a federal grant initiative established as part of SAFETEA-LU, the transportation reauthorization act, to improve the safe movement of motor vehicles at and across US borders with Canada and Mexico. State matching funds are also required. Hensel Phelps is the prime contractor, Mac Electric is the electrical contractor, and IRD provides onsite installation supervision with support from Transcore
and Hi-Tech Solutions
The POE system starts from the ground up, with one scale platform and one DYNAX axle sensor deployed per lane. IRD 4020 SSWIM (slow-speed weigh-in-motion) scales combine in-motion and static scales designed for weighing freight vehicles at low speeds.
Meanwhile, images produced by the LPR system and USDOT Reader – capturing unique USDOT numbers displayed on the sides of vehicles transporting interstate cargo – will be linked to the record of each vehicle. Both systems feature optical character recognition (OCR) to extract the license plate number from the captured image.
“The most significant breakthrough on this project is the advancement of machine vision technology to capture and perform OCR in order to automate data capture from commercial vehicles,” Hanson explains. Machine vision has been used extensively in tolling applications but is now gaining popularity in commercial vehicle tracking and enforcement applications, such as port-of-entry screening.
In addition,unique transponder numbers detected by the AVI system will be linked to the record of each vehicle and the POE system includes high resolution cameras capable of taking pictures in all lighting conditions. These cameras will capture an image of each entire commercial vehicle to tag with its record. This provides additional identification of the vehicle to support the LPR and USDOT reader images. With 42 cameras, the Mariposa Port-of-Entry represents the most cameras ever deployed by IRD at any single site.
All of the IRD technologies will be integrated into the EPIC Management System, which has been customised for this project. For example, the EPIC software has been enhanced to allow tracking of vehicle processing times for statistical analysis on an individual vehicle basis.