Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) improves transportation safety and mobility and enhances productivity through the integration of advanced communications technologies into the transportation infrastructure and in vehicles. ITS encompass a broad range of wireless and wire line communications-based information and electronics technologies.

ITS Program focus on federal-aid ITS project development procedures to assure compliance with the federal ITS regulations, per Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 23, Section 940 (23 CFR 940) entitled “Intelligent Transportation System Architecture and Standards.” In addition, these procedures establish the roles and responsibilities for all parties who are involved in the federal-aid ITS process.

“Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program” reissued in its entirety with LPP 10-01 and Chapter 13 (PDF) of Local Assistance Program Guidelines”(LAPG).

Caltrans Division of Local Assistance (DLA) issued its LPP 12-01 (PDF) on 1/27/12 to address the procedure change for High-Risk (Formerly "Major") ITS Projects.

Caltrans Division of Local Assistance (DLA) issued its LPP 18-01 (PDF) on 1/31/19 to update the whole chapter of ITS Program Guidelines. (PDF)

The requirements for projects in this program are subject to changes by Congress or FHWA each year. For the most current requirements, the local agency must rely on the latest annual FHWA ITS Deployment Program Guideline. The FHWA guidelines are normally issued every January and are available on the FHWA Discretionary Program web site at:

Upon FHWA approval of the project description, the project follows the federal-aid procedures in Chapter 13 "Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program," (PDF) of the LAPG.

A. Instructions for ITS Program Guidelines

Instructions on Implementation of ITS program Guidelines, the Narrated PowerPoint Slideshow (updated on 01/30/2014). If you have any difficulty downloading/reviewing the slideshows, please contact DLA ITS Coordinator at

Instructions on preparing Systems Engineering Review Form (SERF) How to prepare SERF (MP4) (02/06/2015) prepared and presented by District 3 Local Assistance Office (Ross Foon)

B. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Guidelines

The ITS program guidelines can be downloaded here:

Option #1-Download the Entire ITS Program Guidelines (PDF).

Option #2-Download individual sections(Please click each section to start downloading).

C. Types of ITS Projects

ITS projects are divided into three types:Exempt, Low-Risk, and High-Risk projects. The planning and development process to be followed is different for these three types.The previous version of this Guideline referred to Low-Risk projects as “Minor” ITS projects, and High-Risk projects as “Major” ITS projects..

The following attributes can often be used to classify ITS projects as exempt, low, or high risk.

Exempt ITS projects do not require a Systems Engineering Analysis (SEA) and are not covered under these ITS Program Guidelines. All activities of the traditional roadway project development life-cycle process will be followed. No further ITS-specific action is necessary. They can be any the following:

  1. Upgrades to an existing traffic signal – This may include, for example, adding or revising left-turn phasing or other phasing, adding pedestrian-crossing displays.
  2. Installing an “isolated” traffic signal – This is a signal not connected to any type of external signal-control system, nor likely to be in the future because of its isolation.
  3. Traffic signal timing projects – This includes all “studies” whose purpose is to change the coordination parameters for controlling a group of signals – but with no installation of new hardware or software.
  4. Studies, Plans, Analyses – This includes ITS Master Plans, Deployment Plans, Technology Studies, etc. whose product is only a document, with no new hardware of software installed.
  5. Routine Operations – This includes operating and maintaining any ITS elements or systems – again with no new hardware or software installed.

Low-Risk (formerly “Minor”)ITS projects are often referred to as ITS infrastructure expansion. Standard Plans, Standard Specification, and Standard Special Provisions are well documented. They will have all of the following characteristics:

  1. Single jurisdiction; single transportation mode (highway, transit or rail)
  2. No software creation; commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) or proven software
  3. Proven COTS hardware & communications technology
  4. No new interfaces
  5. System requirements fully detailed in writing
  6. Operating procedures fully detailed in writing
  7. Project life-cycle not shortened by technology service life

High-Risk (formerly “Major”)ITS projects are often referred to as ITS “System Developments.” They have one(or more)of the following characteristics:

  1. Multi-Jurisdictional or Multi-modal
  2. Custom software is required
  3. Hardware and Communications are “cutting-edge” or not in common use
  4. New interfaces to other systems are required
  5. System requirements not detailed or not fully documented
  6. Operating procedures not detailed or not fully documented
  7. Technology service life shortens project life-cycle

These risk factors are discussed in

  • single transportation mode (highway, transit or rail)

more detail in Table 13-1.

Table 13-1 – Risk Assessment for ITS Projects
  Low-Risk Project Attributes High-Risk Project Attributes Risk Factors
1 Single jurisdiction and single transportation mode (highway, transit or rail) Multi-Jurisdictional or Multi-modal With multiple agencies, departments, and disciplines, disagreements can arise about roles, responsibilities, cost sharing, data sharing, schedules, changing priorities, etc. Detailed written agreements are crucial!
2 No software creation; uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) or proven software Custom software development is required Custom software requires additional development, testing, training, documentation, maintenance, and product update procedures -- all unique to one installation. This is very expensive, so hidden short-cuts are often taken to keep costs low. Additionally, integration with existing software can be challenging, especially because documentation is often not complete and out-of-date.
3 Proven COTS hardware and communications technology Hardware or communications technology are “cutting edge” or not in common use. New technologies are not “proven” until they have been installed and operated in a substantial number of different environments. New environments often uncover unforeseen problems. New technologies or new businesses can sometimes fail completely. Multiple proven technologies combined in the same project would be high risk if there are new interfaces between them.
4 No new interfaces New interfaces to other systems are required. New interfaces require that documentation for the “other” system be complete and up-to-date.If not (and often they are not), building a new interface can become difficult or impossible.Duplication of existing interfaces reduces the risk. “Open Standard” interfaces are usually well-documented and low risk.
5 System requirements fully-detailed in writing System Requirements not detailed or not fully documented System Requirements are critical for an RFP. They must describe in detail all of the functions the system must perform, performance expected, plus the operating environment. Good requirements can be a dozen or more pages for a small system, and hundreds of pages for a large system. When existing systems are upgraded with new capabilities, requirements must be revised and rewritten.
6 Operating procedures fully-detailed in writing Operating procedures not detailed or not fully documented Standard Operating Procedures are required for training, operations, and maintenance. For existing systems, they are often out-of-date.
7 None of the technologies used are near end of service life Some technologies included are near end of service life Computer technology changes rapidly (e.g. PC’s and cell phones become obsolete in 2-4 years). Local area networks using internet standards have had a long life, but in contrast some mobile phones that use proprietary communications became obsolete quickly. Similarly, the useful life of ITS technology (hardware, software, and communications) is short. Whether your project is a new system or expanding an existing one, look carefully at all the technology elements to assess remaining cost-effective service life.

D. SERF Form and other editable Forms

System Engineering Report Form (SERF), Exhibit 7-I ((DOCX),(PDF), is required for Low-Risk (formerly "Minor") and High-Risk ITS Projects. For detailed information regarding SERF, access Chapter 7 "Field Review," (PDF) of Local Assistance Procedure Manual (LAPM). Samples of SERF can be found at FHWA California Division website


System Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) is required for High Risk (formerly "Major") ITS Projects. The samples of SEMP can be found at FHWA California Division website

F. LAPG Orientation

LAPG Orientation (PPS)

G. Contacts


Edward Ofori
ITS Team Leader
(916) 498-5005

Steve Pyburn
ITS Engineer (NorCal)
(916) 498-5057

Jesse Glazer
Senior ITS Engineer (SoCal)
(213) 894-6352

Caltrans Division of Local Assistance

Kitae Nam
ITS Coordinator (HQ)
(916) 653-7140

Heidi Borders
ITS Coordinator (D5)
(805) 542-4690

Garin Schneider
ITS Coordinator (D5)
(805) 542-4606

Pedram Mafi
ITS Coordinator (D6)
(559) 445-6470

Vijay Kopparam
ITS Coordinator (D7)
(213) 897-2946

Bing Luu
ITS Coordinator (D11)
(619) 220-5337

Monroe Johnson
ITS Coordinator (D12)
(949) 724-2470


H. Related Links

Caltrans home page:

FHWA California Division Office:

FHWA home page:

ITS Benefit-cost Database:

ITS System Cost Database:

ITS Conformity Rule:

ITS Eligibility Costs for Operating a Transportation Management System:

ITS Standards:

National ITS Architecture :

System Engineering Guidebook for ITS:

NHI Its Training Courses:

US DOT ITS site:

If you have any questions or are experiencing problems downloading, please contact your local Caltrans District Local Assistance Office or the Caltrans HQ Division of Local Assistance ITS Coordinator.

Please feel free to send comments regarding this web site to the DLA Webmaster.