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.