High-Tech “Smarter Highway” Signs Go Live On I-5 Next Week

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Next Tuesday (Aug. 10), the Washington State Department of Transportation’s new, high-tech “Smarter Highways” signs will light up above nearby northbound I-5.

The WSDOT says in a statement that these signs will “automatically alert drivers to change lanes when an incident blocks traffic or to adjust their speed before reaching slower-moving traffic. The new signs will help reduce rear-end collisions, allow for earlier escape to alternate routes and smooth lane shifting caused by incidents like stalls or collisions.”

“We’re asking drivers to get familiar with Smarter Highways ahead of time so they know what to do when the sign above their lane shows a yellow arrow or a reduced speed limit,” said Patty Rubstello, WSDOT Systems Engineer. “This is new technology for us and the United States, so we know it will be a big change for drivers.”

The WSDOT is also encouraging drivers to boost their Smarter Highways knowledge:

  • Visit the Smarter Highways website here: www.smarterhighways.com
  • Watch the four-minute Smarter Highways video here.
  • Visit the I-5 Smarter Highways project website here.
  • Look at photos of the high-tech signs on Flickr here.
  • Talk about Smarter Highways on the WSDOT blog here.

WSDOT traffic engineers have rigorously tested the Smarter Highways on I-5 since May to ensure the complex system of traffic sensors, electronic signs and fiber optic are ready to activate.

“Getting Smarter Highways up and running is more than plugging in signs and flipping a switch,” said Rubstello “We need to make sure all system parts run together like clockwork.”

Installing Smarter Highways on I-5 will help keep people and goods moving during construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The I-5 project is funded through WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program.

Drivers will use Smarter Highways on three of Washington’s busiest corridors. The locations and activation dates are:

  • Northbound I-5 between Boeing Access Road and I-90 on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010
  • SR 520 between I-5 and 130th Avenue NE in Bellevue in fall 2010
  • I-90 between I-5 and 150th Avenue SE in Bellevue in spring 2011

Here’s what the signs look like:

Photo courtesy WSDOT.

To learn more about WSDOT’s new program, visit: www.smarterhighways.com.

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