Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smarter Highways now active on I-5

From guest blogger Pam Wrenn

Have you driven northbound I-5 in south Seattle lately? If you have, you’ve probably seen the new electronic signs light up. We officially turned them on at 11 a.m. yesterday August 10th. The signs come on when traffic slows ahead, to let drivers know to reduce speed. They also direct traffic out of lanes where accidents or construction are blocking ahead.

You can see them in action on the I-5 at Albro Place webcam, and on the I-5 at South Rose St webcam

So what do you think? Are Smarter Highways making you feel more confident about what’s on the road ahead?

Side note: some of you have asked whether these speed limits are enforceable. The answer is yes, here is more from the State Patrol.


Anonymous said...

Smarter drivers on backorder.

Anonymous said...

Seems more like the DOT has gone in to the parking lot business. These reduced speed limits are absurd. It just backs up traffic worse than it would have been, and impacts other roads (like the West Seattle bridge). I don't need a sign to tell me that traffic isn't moving at 60. I can SEE the cars. These "smart" signs are just dumbing down the driving population. I do see a positive side to informing us that there is an accident and to merge over, etc, but limits shouldn't be set per se...they should just be recommended.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can see the cars... but by that time your braking heavier than one should be. Reduced speed limits reduces possible rear-end accidents, slows the "parking lot" gridlock by easing incoming traffic into it at slower speeds. It will impact other roads and that's the point or use mass transit. Smart highway technology is to place near-/at- capacity highways (which I-5 will not be expanding anytime soon.) to other road that are less congested.

Anonymous said...

Just another revenue generating smoke screen…another excuse for the state patrol to ticket you at lower speeds. I agree that some of the lane change/merge features are nice, but we can obviously see that traffic is already slow. I don’t need WSDOT telling me that I can only go 35mph, when I am sitting in traffic doing 35mph or slower. The only difference is that now I can get a ticket for exceeding that speed. Agree that the speeds should be recommended or advisory & not enforceable.
My morning commute is over SR520 EB, so my smart sighs have not been lit up yet, but I see no value with a sign at Montlake and then the another at Arboretum telling I that I can only go 25mph, when that’s the speed I’ve been stuck at from about I-5 and NE 45th, prior to interchanging to SR520. Waste of taxpayer’s money!

Fish Finders said...

I think all this technology to let drivers know that traffic is slow or there are accidents way down the road actually make matters worse. Because of all these "early warning" systems people slow down even more and create more havoc on the road. For the most part people SEE that the traffic is slow and adjust. I sincerely doubt that the ROI on these measures is even a fraction of the cost to build them

Sotosoroto said...

Yesterday was my first chance to see these signs in action. I was sorely disappointed.

After a set of blank signs, traffic abrubtly slowed to 35 mph. The next set of signs said 50 mph as traffic rolled between 25 mph and 40 mph. The signs after that directed the speed limit at 40 mph as we continued slower.

Next up were the arrows telling everyone that the right lane was blocked ahead. Past the "merge" sign and past the red X sign and all the way to the blocking vehicle, the right lane was just as full as the other lanes.

The signs after the blocking vehicle showed green arrows for all. A half mile later, the signs were blank and traffic was moving at 60 mph even though the speed limit was officially still 40 mph, since that was the last sign posted. Shouldn't these signs have said 60 or at least 50?

Traffic slowed a bit before I-90 and the signs said 50 mph (even though the express lane exit was dead stopped shortly thereafter).

In summary, I think the programming of these signs still needs work.

Anonymous said...

A smart thing would be to raise the speed limit up to 70 when there is few traffic and good weather.

Who needs variable speed limits, where the highest limit shown is only 60?

On german Autobahns the blank sign means recommended 80 (130 kph), and the first warning of any incident, fog, rain etc. is at 120 or 130 kph (75/81 mph).

On any other section of autobahn with no posted speed limit, drivers have to see a congestion with their own eyes, even when travelling at 120 mph. A big problem are tired lorry drivers crashing into congested vehicles.

Greetings from Germany
Dark moon

Anonymous said...

I understand the concept but once again the government is completely oblivious to human nature. People are going to drive as fast as the guy in front of them, no one pays any attention to these signs. Spend the money on new lanes not signs to tell you there aren't enough. Another win for the train nuts, by putting these stupid signs over the road-way it limits the possibility of further expansion.

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