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TRB ISFO 2023: a history from Athens to Vienna

Mar 9, 2023

From June 26 to 30, 2023, the 4th TRB International Symposium on Freeway and Tollway Operations will take place in Vienna. Find out, where it started and where it’s heading.

Where it all began

The 1st International Symposium of Freeway and Tollway Operations took place in 2006 in Athens, Greece. “We at Attica Tollway, as the Hosting Agency, had agreed to incorporate our European counterparts, among them ASECAP and IRF Geneva, as well to bring along IBTTA, which our toll agency had just joined as a full member.”, explains Bill Halkias, the CEO of Attica Tollway of Athens Greece, an Engineer from the National Technical University of Athens and a M.Sc. degree holder in Transportation Engineering from the USA New Jersey Institute of Technology, who is part of the ISFO since its beginning in 2006. “The collaboration between European and US institutions provides the platform of getting know- how in Motorway Operations.” It was back in 2003 when Bill Halkias was encouraged to join the TRB Freeway Operations Committee (AHB20).

The trip to Greece for the Symposium was combined with a technical scan tour of the leading freeway operations efforts in Europe, which was supported and funded by FHWA and AASHTO. “The Symposium, technical visits, and deliberations were instrumental in the concept of Active Traffic Management (ATM), in support of actively managing traffic on the main lanes of freeways.”, clarifies Bill.
The eleven members of the scan of the 1st TRB ISFO facilitated the research on ATM and relating practices. Furthermore they supported the use of different operational strategies (e.g. shoulder use) in the US benefiting from the practice and experience in Europe. In order to support advancing research and the concepts of ATM, TRB formed the joint subcommittee on Active Traffic Management between various technical committees in 2009. This joint subcommittee continues to share practices, identify and advance proposals for research, and promotes the sharing of information (e.g., TRB panel sessions, workshops, webinars) within TRB. “The Athens Symposium in 2006 was a success and provided a great way to engage interests and let AHB20 begin to coordinate with other professional organizations on issues associated with managing and operating freeways.”, says Bill.
The success of the Athens Meeting led AHB20 to embrace the idea of organizing similar international gatherings from time to time. Which is why only 3 years later, in 2009 the 2nd International Symposium of Freeway and Tollway Operations took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. Due to the successful Symposium attended by people and organizations from all over the world the 3rd International Symposium of Freeway and Tollway Operations was organized in 2016, this time in Berlin, Germany.

The actual progress

As the years passed, the idea of another Symposium came up. Therefore, in 2018 Bill approached ASFINAG, the Austrian highway infrastructure operator, at the IBTTA Annual Conference in Baltimore and discussed the idea of organizing a conference, this time in Vienna. The idea was fully supported and AustriaTech was taken on board to host the TRB ISFO 2023 in Vienna.
This year’s Symposium added additional topics and aspects around the future of traffic management. The attention will be drawn to “Governance and Organizational Challenges”, “Managing and Analyzing Operational Strategies and Performance”, “Next Generation of Traffic Management Systems and Services” and finally yet importantly “Innovative Financing to Build and Operate Motorways”.

We are looking forward to fruitful discussions with managers, traffic engineers, practitioners, and researchers to discuss and share their experiences with “The Future of Managing Traffic” at ISFO 2023 in Vienna!

Click here to find out more about the TRB ISFO 2023.

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