In the sprawling metroplex of Dallas, traffic congestion is a Texas-sized problem.
The region ranks 16th in the U.S. for congestion, according to Inrix, a transportation analytics firm. Smart traffic management and autonomous vehicles could ease the burden if local officials can successfully navigate the coming changes.
Except the problem is being tackled by a very small team.
"We're a department of one," said Thomas Bamonte, the automated vehicles program manager for a council of governments in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
While the auto industry is plowing ahead on self-driving car r&d, cash-strapped state and city governments are just beginning to ponder what role they will play. Many automakers have said they will have self-driving cars on the roads in the early 2020s, and the industry is pouring resources into pushing the technology ahead.
Local governments, which need to create the infrastructure to accommodate these changes, are not the ones driving the conversations, said Ronique Day, assistant secretary of transportation in Virginia.
"All of this lies with the private sector, they truly are driving this," Day said. "Some cities and localities aren't planning for this deliberately right now, but I don't think the private sector can do it without the government."
Bamonte's one-man operation is the first step in a wider struggle for cities and states rethinking how governments might approach infrastructure and transportation management in an era of connected, autonomous vehicles. He is trying to get more local interest in the issue, by hosting demonstrations of autonomous vehicles in the area, pushing for pilot programs on Texas highways and opening up troves of traffic data to private companies.