The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(112) [Active]

Connected Road Classification System (CRCS) Development
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $180,000
Staff Responsibility: Camille Crichton-Sumners
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Christopher Poe
Effective Date: 9/1/2017
Completion Date: 5/31/2019
Comments: Research in progress.

The objective of this project is to develop a consensus Connected Road Classification System (CRCS) that will be useful to state and local departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations that are planning or implementing CV- and HAV-compatible infrastructure. Vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other private-sector interests (e.g., other HAV developers, transportation network companies, digital map providers, cellular telecommunications companies) must be involved in the development to ensure that the system is relevant to their development plans.


The project is just underway.

Task 1. Hold a kick-off meeting between the project panel and the research team to discuss the overall project scope and schedule.
Task 2. Synthesize road classification systems that consider connected vehicles and automated vehicles.
Task 3. Conduct a workshop to gather opinions on a CRCS and start to build consensus around content in a recommended CRCS.
Task 4. Vet the leading findings from the Task 3 workshop with key industry experts, both those attending the workshop and additional representatives identified as important to build a broad consensus group.
Task 5. Draft the final report, which will include:
  • A description of the CRCS;
  • Rationale and justification for the CRCS;
  • Descriptions and examples of how departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and infrastructure owners/operators can use the CRCS in planning, programming, design, construction, and maintenance; and
  • Stand-alone executive summary.
Task 6. Draft a stand-alone technical memorandum that identifies issues affecting implementation of the research findings and products, proposed possible actions to address these issues, and that facilitates application of the products of this research.
Task 7. Following panel review of the Tasks 5 and 6 deliverables, prepare the final versions based on the comments received.

In September 2015, the USDOT announced selection of three pilot deployment sites to develop, test, and demonstrate connected vehicle (CV) applications in the states of Florida, New York, and Wyoming. While the transportation community will learn a considerable amount from these pilot deployments, they represent only a portion of the recent partnerships, test facilities, and pilot deployments intended to test and validate CV and highly automated vehicle (HAV) technologies and applications as the private sector accelerates their development. HAVs are those “in which the vehicle can take full control of the driving task in at least some circumstances” (NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy). This corresponds to Level 4 of SAE Standard J3016 classifying the level of automated driving in on-road motor vehicles.
From the infrastructure owners/operators’ perspective, there is a considerable amount of activity needed to understand the enormity of the issues that will be faced and the tasks that will need to be performed by transportation agencies over the next two to three decades. CVs will require roadside infrastructure and communications to supporting systems, and therefore the DOTs that own and operate the infrastructure are typically leading or playing a large role in these developments and deployments. While HAVs will benefit from communications with roadside infrastructure, they are not as dependent on this interaction and DOTs are not as involved in their development. There are, however, aspects of the infrastructure, such as lane and crosswalk striping, that are critical to the operation of HAVs.
Perhaps the cornerstone decision facing each infrastructure owner/operator is the level to which they intend to equip their roadways for the impending rollout of CVs and HAVs. Recognizing this, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has proposed a road classification system with six levels that relate to the roadway’s ability to support CVs and HAVs (Source: Colorado RoadX documentation).  
Level 1: Unpaved and/or non-striped roads designed to a minimum level of standard of safety and mobility.
Level 2: Paved roads designed to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official’s (AASHTO’s) standards with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Device (MUTCD) signage. There is not Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) equipment or infrastructure to collect connected vehicle data (Dedicated Short Range Radio). Access to cellular date service may be available.
Level 3: There is Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) equipment operated by a Traffic Operation Center (TOC) and/or, one-way electronic data share between DOT/Vehicle/User and/or, mixed use lanes.
Level 4: Roadway or specific lane(s) has adaptive ITS equipment (i.e., smart signals hold for vehicles, highway lighting that turn on for vehicles, etc.) with Traffic Operations Center override only, and/or two-way data share between DOT/Vehicle/User, and/or lanes designated for vehicle levels 3 & 4 only.
Level 5: (Advance Guide-way System) roadway or specific lane(s) designed for vehicle level 4 only with additional features that may include inductive charging, advance/enhanced data sharing, etc. Additionally, no roadside signs are needed as all roadway information is direct to vehicles’ on-board systems.
Level 6: All lanes on a roadway designed for only vehicle level 4 systems--no signs, signals, striping... needed.
Research is needed to build on CDOT’s efforts to develop a uniform classification system. This system will help agencies designate their roadways based on the degree and level of readiness to accommodate CVs and HAVs and plan their deployment of needed infrastructure.

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