Office of Traffic Operations Research

Our team focuses on performing research and managing research projects that benefit the Divisions of Traffic Operations, Rail and Mass Transportation, and Design. Our emphasis includes supporting Caltrans strategic goals by upholding mandates, performing innovative and cross-cutting research, and promoting and advancing transportation system management. We oversee a variety of projects for customers and stakeholders from public transportation and modal research and intelligent transportation systems to emergency/incident response research and connected vehicle research.

Brian Simi, Office Chief
Email Brian Simi
(916) 227-8008

What We Do

  • Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV)
  • Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) Research
  • Rural Transportation Research
  • Professional Capacity Building for Engineering Staff
  • Advanced Transportations Management Systems (ATMS)
  • Implementation and Technical Assistance
  • Design Research
  • Rail Research
  • Aeronautics Research
  • Traffic Engineering Research
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems Development
  • Field Element Research and Development
  • Research Project Database Management and Enhancements
  • Web Application and Page Development
  • Emergency Incident Response Research
  • Multimodal Transportation Research
  • Mass Transportation Research

Office of Traffic Operations Research Branches

Multimodal Transportation

Balwinder Tarlok, Chief
Email Balwinder Tarlok
(916) 227-6229

Our branch's responsibilities include managing public transportation and modal research related to solving passenger transportation problems that affect the safety, accessibility, convenience, connectivity, user friendliness, and affordability of the State's public transportation systems.

  • Bus Transit Research Program
    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products for Bus Transit Research. Working closely with our partners, we facilitate the sharing of knowledge and innovation in effort to increase the speed, efficiency, and reliability of high-capacity bus service throughout California.

  • Rail Research Program
    Assist and evaluate research and other technical activities in a variety of rail subject areas, including: design, construction, maintenance, operations, safety, security, policy, planning, human resources, and administration.

  • Aviation Research Program
    Assist and evaluate research projects related to the development of a safe, efficient, dependable, and environmentally compatible air transportation system.

  • Travel Behavior/Real Time Traveler Information
    Improve delivery of real-time traveler information to the public via web and mobile phone for better planning and operation of the State's transportation network.

  • Intermodal Connectivity
    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products for Intermodal Connectivity Research.

  • Design Research Program
    Assist and evaluate research and other technical activities in a variety of design subject areas.

TMS Development Support Branch

Joel Retanan, Chief
Email Joel Retanan
(916) 227-2681

Our team manages safety-related research projects, which include bicycle-, pedestrian-, and truck-related projects; provides technical outreach and technical support to our customers and partners, including validation of vehicle detection systems; develops, administers, and manages DRISI websites; and administers and manages databases, such as the Research Program Management Database (RPMD) and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Database.

  • Strategies for Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
    Identify the potential for reducing pedestrian and bicyclist injury and generally increasing pedestrian and bicyclist mobility at the corridor level and roundabout locations.

  • Truck Platooning Partial Automation and Smart Parking
    Examine the potential to improve freight operations and parking, which have major impacts on safety, mobility, facilities preservation, and the environment.

  • Vehicle Detection Systems Validation and Diagnosis
    Validate and diagnose various existing and newly installed vehicle detection systems, which are often used for transportation management and traffic control.

  • Research Program Management Database (RPMD) Administration, Maintenance, and Enhancements
    Provide administration, maintenance, and enhancements to the database that is used by DRISI in managing its research projects.

Transportation System Management and Operations Research Branch

Pete Hansra, Chief
Email Pete Hansra
(916) 227-6231

Our primary responsibilities include facilitating research contracts in the corridor management, connected vehicle, freeway operations, and traffic incident management areas. Some of the secondary duties performed under this branch are: implementing innovative solutions to transportation challenges, evaluating new technologies, participating in various technology forums, and performing technical analysis of various legislative bills.

  • Corridor Management Research Program
    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies and products in Transportation research. Through the Corridor Management Research Program, we solve traffic safety and mobility problems through the development and deployment of aggressive and proactive integration and management of major transportation corridors.

  • Connected Vehicle Research Program
    Evaluate, develop, deploy, and demonstrate test-beds and applications for connected vehicle technology. The connected vehicle program is focused on solving traffic safety and mobility problems through developing connected vehicle applications for infrastructure, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Freeway Operations Research
    Assist in the evaluation, development, demonstration, and deployment of new Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies and products for freeway operations research. The Freeway Operations Research program is focused on safely and efficiently solving freeway traffic mobility problems through the development and deployment of innovative and proactive management tools that can be used on daily freeway operations.

Connected & Automated Vehicle Infrastructure Development Branch

Asfand Yar Siddiqui, Chief
Email Asfand Yar Siddiqui
(916) 227-9882

Responsibilities include developing, upgrading, maintaining and operating the Connected Vehicle (CV) Test-Bed located in Palo Alto California.  Additional responsibilities include developing enabling technologies and applications for successful CV implementation.

  • Strategic Research Program Management
    Identification of transformational opportunities and emerging technologies that, when integrated into vehicles and the transportation infrastructure, will lead to improvements in safety and system performance as well as greenhouse emissions reductions.

  • Connected & Automated Vehicle Technology Outreach
    Building awareness, create partnerships and facilitate the adoption of CV technologies that are under development.

ITS Special Projects and Standards / Traffic Detection

Specialized Research

  • ITS Special Projects

    Sean Campbell, Senior Transportation Engineer, Electrical (Specialist)
    Email Sean Campbell
    916) 227-6259

    Responsibilities include managing in-house and external rural research projects, as well as providing technical support to Caltrans rural districts.

    • Rural Program Steering Committee
      Provides technical leadership by structuring a research agenda and selecting research projects within the rural program area that most effectively supports Caltrans' mission, vision and goals.

    • Western States Rural Transportation Consortium Coordination
      Facilitates and enhances safe, seamless travel throughout the western United States by promoting innovative partnerships, technologies and educational activities. Provides a collaborative mechanism to leverage research activities in a coordinated manner to respond to rural transportation issues among western states related to technology, operations and safety.

    • Western States Rural Transportation Technology Implementers Forum Coordination
      Sharing technical information on best practices and field deployment experience using Intelligent Transportation Systems in rural environments.

    • Department Traveler Information Data Deployment
      Coordinates and maintains traveler information data website for Caltrans known as the Commercial Wholesale Website Portal Version 2. Current, real time data sets include CCTV images, Changeable Message Signs message data, Lane Closure System data, Roadside Weather Information Systems data and Chain Control data. 

  • Traffic Detection and Signal Operations

    John Slonaker, Senior Transportation Engineer, Electrical (Specialist)
    Email John Slonaker
    916) 227-2689

    Responsibilities include managing research projects, both in-house and partnering with academia. The projects are related to traffic detection technology evaluation and development, innovations in traffic signal operations strategies, or machine vision based traffic incidents detection.

    • Traffic Detection Technology
      Evaluate commercial and experimental traffic detection devices to compare accuracy, range, and resolution; and to determine the appropriateness of various technologies for different detection scenarios.

    • Traffic Signal Operation
      Provide technical expertise on ITS and general traffic engineering to the Department and our partners. Perform research on traffic engineering topics with a focus on developing standards that can be reused.

    • Video Incident Detection
      Develop machine vision systems that automatically recognize certain types of incidents and other traffic behavior. These systems are generally developed to alert Traffic Management Center operators for incident management and to collect information for safety and incident mitigation planning.