Schedule Challenges Related to Roadside Toll Equipment Testing

Testing of roadside tolling equipment is often the final work item on toll road construction schedules. Several iterative test evolutions commonly occur in advance of the final system commissioning test, but agencies rely on the final test to certify that the system is ready to reliably collect tolls. Several strategies can be employed to mitigate the risk that toll equipment testing will impact the schedule.

From a contract specification perspective, the owner should adopt a holistic approach to controlling the various aspects of toll equipment testing. Often, testing is well specified in the toll equipment contractor’s scope, but little specification and schedule guidance is included in the roadway contractor’s scope. Determining the best overall approach to system testing and including controlling language in all related scope documents, such as partnering provisions, will help facilitate a successful test.

In some cases, too much emphasis is placed on final commissioning tests conducted on the operational roadway while earlier tests are “rubber stamped” and not given adequate focus. Additionally, testing conducted at system integrator facilities (commonly and incorrectly referred to as factory acceptance testing) is not always representative of the final geometric and equipment configuration. Another common issue is a lack of real world testing scenarios for vehicle density and behavior. An early commitment to replicating the final roadside configuration and ensuring that test scenarios produce viable results reduces the need for more extensive testing late in the delivery process.

Once roadway construction commences, especially on corridors or bridges with multiple tolling locations, a single tolling site should be identified for early completion. This allows for more extensive final commissioning tests at that location. An extended testing approach at the early readiness site that accounts for final corrections and tuning will allow a more abbreviated approach to subsequent commissioning tests. This approach alleviates construction schedule pressure and helps control risk.

A comprehensive approach to system testing, strong contractual controls with incentives associated with successful testing, and a focus on achievable testing parameters will pay dividends when scheduling and delivering a comprehensive roadside toll equipment delivery and testing program.

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About the author

Kevin Palmer, PE, PMP
Kevin Palmer, PE, PMP
Kevin serves as RS&H’s Tolls Technology Leader and has a range of progressive experience in program management, consulting, and system planning. RS&H provides specialized solutions for the planning, scheduling, and testing of toll and managed lanes systems.

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