Local News

Smart Work Zones Inform Drivers In A Flash

Posted December 18, 2001

— The state

Department of Transportation

is trying to cut down on deaths, injuries and traffic jams in North Carolina's road construction areas.

Typically, when drivers enter a work zone, it is tough to know what is ahead of them. The DOT said that high-tech Smart Work Zones are the solution to that problem.

According to the DOT, new signs flashing real-time information will grab drivers' attention.

"If we have delays, a variable message sign might tell you it is now better to take the Durham Freeway up to I-85 and bypass any of the delays in the work zone. It's real-time information updated as conditions change," DOT engineer Kelly Hutchinson said.

The Interstate 40 widening from the Durham Freeway to 15-501 and the continuing work along Interstate 95 in Cumberland County will be North Carolina's first Smart Work Zones.

Sometime next year, radar beams placed in work areas will measure traffic volumes, feed data into a computer and warn drivers of what to expect ahead of them.

If the I-95 and I-40 Smart Work Zone experiments work, drivers will see new signs, and hopefully, less of the old problems in road construction areas.

Despite a tight budget, the DOT said that the new Smart Work Zone technology will actually save money.

Officials said that the computer-driven signs sending information back to control centers will cost less than sending people and older equipment out to job sites.

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