“If we want to change a label, it takes five minutes — and it’s free.”
Thousands of vehicles pass daily through the tunnels that connect the banks of Virginia’s Elizabeth River. While most motorists travel without incident, abandoned vehicles, breakdowns, accidents, and more add up each day. It’s up to the team at Elizabeth River Crossings to respond and resolve these traffic snarls, while accurately documenting everything that happens during each of these events for analysis and accountability.
Bringing Response Times and Tracking Up to Date
When the Crossings team took over the tunnel facilities in 2012, though, the process for recording traffic incidents needed some help.
“We were given the facilities by VDOT with a hasty transition,” said Jim Doerflinger, the IT manager for ERC. “They were basically, on a Friday night, going to turn off their computers and hand it over to us with full responsibility of everything. Cars would have no idea it happened, but above the tunnels it was now us running things.”
Keeping traffic moving quickly through the tunnels is a central goal for ERC, giving the public value for money invested in the project — and giving drivers value for their toll fees. Documenting, tracking, and quickly responding to accidents and incidents on the road are essential. But when ERC took over, traffic events were tracked manually, in long text files that were eventually sent out and collated externally.
The team at Elizabeth River Crossings needed to find a software solution to streamline the operation, and quickly. They were on the lookout for an easy-to-implement help desk solution that could digitize their process and allow them to customize their fields to capture the exact information they needed for each traffic event.
Issuetrak checked all the boxes, and deployment was a breeze. It was so simple to set up and configure, they didn’t even have to involve their IT department.
“I didn’t even get training. I just got in there. The system was easy to configure with all the help files, and if we did have a question we could just put in a request to ask,” said Ryan McLane, director of operations and maintenance for ERC. “It’s now the system of record for much of what happens in the tunnels.”
A Tailor-Made Way to Use Issuetrak
While many companies use Issuetrak to manage user-submitted tickets and issues, the team at ERC uses the solution a little differently. All of their submissions are created internally by their employees, who monitor traffic in the tunnels using a collection of detection methods such as radios, cameras, and even other employees calling in to report.
ERC took advantage of Issuetrak’s customization features to replace the default language of “issue” with their preferred term, “event.” And they handle a lot of events: there are around 500,000 events in the database, entered over the course of the last nine years by a team that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Each ticket has fields for event type and subtype, how the event was detected, location, direction of travel, roadway impact, pavement condition, and more, down to the color of the vehicles.
The solution worked so well for ERC that they decided to expand its use into their IT department. That instance is much smaller-scale: there are currently only around 100 tickets in the database for issues such as onboarding, terminations, and maintenance requests.
“I don’t know if I ever had to have multiple calls to resolve an issue.”
Getting More from U.S.-Based Support
When ERT received a request asking what percentage of accidents happen on wet pavement, the team immediately set up a new custom field in their submission forms using Issuetrak’s user-defined field feature.
“Took five minutes to put it in and five to tell the people how to use it,” said Ryan. “More traditionally you have to go to the integrator and you have to get it integrated that way, costing time and money. If we want to change a label, it takes five minutes — and it’s free.”
The searchable database and easy reporting tools have also been helpful, especially when the team needs to look up information from a past event quickly or generate a graph of data over time. Sometimes FOIA requests or search warrants will come in after road incidents, requiring the team to collect information from a certain day or certain timeframe. Issuetrak makes compliance easy, pulling that information by clicking a few buttons.
Reliable, approachable support that was always up-to-date on ERC’s implementation was another plus.
“What I always liked was, I was calling someone in Virginia Beach who knew exactly what we were doing and was familiar with our site. I don’t know if I ever had to have multiple calls to resolve an issue. Even down to database migrations or moving to the cloud,” said Jim.
Issuetrak has supported Elizabeth River Crossings as its preferred tracking solution for nearly 10 years, helping to document incidents and help keep roads and tunnels safer. For more information on how Issuetrak can help your team manage its unique issues and challenges, see our website or schedule your own personalized demo!
About Ashlyn Frassinelli