The South Dakota Department of Transportation has deployed a number of rural Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in recent years, including its Statewide 511 Traveler Information Service and a network of thirty dynamic message signs along Interstate highways 29 and 90. SDDOT has also created a comprehensive Road Condition Reporting System to feed information about roadway conditions related to weather, construction and maintenance, and incidents and emergencies to 511, the media, law enforcement agencies, and web pages. These services are linked but are not yet coordinated through any formal traffic operations process.
As traffic increases in cities and throughout South Dakota, it becomes increasingly important for the public agencies not only to be aware of road conditions and incidents and to provide timely information to motorists, but also to provide prompt emergency response when needed. Many states and cities have established traffic operations centers-which generally coordinate highway operations and maintenance, public safety, and emergency response to traffic and other incidents-for this purpose. Metropolitan traffic operations centers typically employ large arrays of electronic information systems and require large numbers of staff to maintain and operate. South Dakota may not need such an elaborate and expensive center, but there is a clear need for incident response coordination and active traffic control, not only in heavily populated areas of the state, but also in rural areas and during large events, most notably the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Research is needed to assess South Dakotas current and emerging traffic operations needs and determine how they could be met most effectively, economically, and in a manner consistent with established roles of its public agencies.