Another Step toward Smarter Highways

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has issued a $34 million contract to Pennsylvania-based TransCore to design and build an active traffic management system for Interstate 66. The contract will cover 34 miles of highway from Washington, D.C., to Gainesville, at the intersection of U.S. 29. Reports ITS International:

The active traffic management system will continuously monitor traffic and roadway conditions around the clock, collecting data using roadway monitoring equipment such as vehicle detection sensors and closed-circuit television cameras. The system will use such techniques as lane control signal systems, adaptive ramp metering, enhanced detection and camera systems, lane management systems, and queue warning systems. Active traffic management systems have been used throughout Europe for the last decade, but Transcore says this is a relatively new concept in the United States.

Benefits of the I-66 ATM system for motorists include: dynamic message and lane control signing advising motorists of incidents and delays by providing direction on lanes that are usable, and guidance on merging traffic; expanded use of shoulder lanes regardless of time of day in response to incidents and to manage traffic; improved monitoring of the roadway to provide quicker response by transportation, safety and law enforcement personnel.

Kudos to VDOT for aggressively exploring active transportation management as an alternative to laying more concrete and asphalt. As always, it would be useful for citizens to see a Return on Investment  justification for the investment. My hunch is that commuters will see a lot more benefit from this investment than from extending a single lane for a mile or two. But that hunch needs to be proven. If VDOT can nail down the ROI for smart roads, it will be able to justify more in the future.

– JAB

5 Responses to Another Step toward Smarter Highways

  1. Sometimes I wonder who VDOT really is. They have very different multiple personalities and in this case, I wonder if this part of VDOT is separate from Connaughton and the “we need more money to build more roads” guy.

    I too applaud VDOT on their efforts to wring out as much utility as they can from the existing infrastructure.

  2. Rt 66 is an epic traffic disaster, especially as you drive East from Fairfax County to Arlington County. It’s one of the several roads that NoVa Natives know to avoid at all costs. All of the pseudo-socialist experiments (like HoV lanes) have failed. It needed to be four lanes in both directions from the start. However, I believe the people in Arlington fought against any expansion believing that HoV lanes and Metro would be the answer. Fine by me. I just drive through their neighborhoods instead.

    • Right – Remember it well. For this disaster from the beginning, you can thank several large “irreplaceable” oak trees, and their cadre of fierce defenders.

  3. re: so I drive through instead.

    do ya’ll remember the lawsuit against HOT lanes from Arlington?

    that was their concern. They felt that the HOT lanes would dump more solo cars on their surface streets do they opposed more ramps.

    so just curious.. when we say “all the people in Arlington” is that the same as saying Centralized govt opposition?

  4. Connaughton is not VDOT. The Secretary(s) of Transportation are appointees which usually parallel the governor’s terms. VDOT behave a lot more consistently than do Secretaries. The Secretaries are like that temporary micro-managing boss that visits occasionally from corporate.

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