Skip to comments.Why That Speed Limit Sign You Just Saw May Be Changing
Posted on 02/27/2018 2:03:18 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Although the Colorado Department of Transportation has its eyes on the future, as seen in its advocacy of the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop project that recently won a global challenge, the agency is also trying to innovate when it comes to current highways. Hence the planned installation of variable speed limit signs in Glenwood Canyon that can either speed up or slow down traffic in response to weather and traffic conditions. VSL has already gotten a tryout near Boulder, and if the system works in Glenwood, among the trickiest sections along the Interstate 70 corridor, after installation set to begin during the coming months, it could be expanded to more roadways across the state.
"Like Hyperloop, this, too, is kind of a step into the technology realm," says CDOT spokesperson Amy Ford, "and I think people are intrigued, because it matches how we drive and helps us to be safer and get where we're going more reliably."
Winter often causes significant problems in Glenwood Canyon. In December 2015, for example, we reported about a seven-car crash that involved actor James Woods; afterward, he praised responders via Twitter before adding, "Sorry, I'm rambling. Little concussion." And the following February, we told you about rock slides that caused commuting headaches involving the canyon for well over a week.
In the meantime, CDOT placed some variable speed limit signage along U.S. 36 between Boulder and Interstate 25. "If you watch, you can see new speed limits pop up," Ford points out. "The idea is that we slow traffic down or speed it up depending on the roadway conditions in front of drivers. It's designed to make the roadway safer."
The concept is being expanded considerably in Glenwood Canyon over a fourteen-mile stretch of eastbound I-70 and fifteen miles of westbound I-70, including the Hanging Lake Tunnel area. In addition to seventeen new variable speed limit signs, CDOT crews plant to replace 38 static (meaning unchanging) signs with 73 new ones. And that's not to mention three weather stations for live weather-condition monitoring and reporting, nine closed-circuit cameras and what a department release calls "other surface and subsurface conduit, and related improvements to guide the display of the variable speed limits."
Ford explains the latter like so: "Basically, we're using censors and other visual data as a way of assessing what the right speed should be at any moment. Say there's a crash up ahead and cars are starting to stack up. Before even getting to that point, we'll start pushing the speed limit down so that people aren't coming in at seventy miles per hour and then having to do a hard stop."
If, on the other hand, conditions are ideal, the variable speed limit signs offer a bonus of sorts. Right now, the speed limit through the canyon is fifty miles per hour, but if all is well, Ford confirms, "the limit will be pushed up to sixty miles per hour for passenger vehicles and fifty for heavy vehicles. Whatever the conditions are, we can adjust things to the safest scenario."
The project is expected to be put out for bid next month, with construction scheduled to get underway in June and continue (after a winter break) through the fall of 2019. Once all the signage is in place, "we need people to work with us," Ford stresses. "If the speed limit says forty miles per hour, we highly encourage you to drive forty miles per hour. We have to continue to do good education with the public, because instead of wondering, 'Why did it drop all of a sudden?,' they'll realize there's a reason."
And probably not a very happy one.
They use similar signs on the highways here in Stuttgart. I have a mixed view of them, sometimes the speed changes seem arbitrary.
There is a spot on my morning commute where they constantly drop the speed from 100 km/h (62 mph) down to 80 Km/h (49 mph). All it seems to do is cause backups, the traffic thins as we pass a major interchange with the A8 autobahn.
THe signs are only as good as the evaluations of traffic.
Someone’s brother is getting the contract.....it’s easier to explain a technology that’s been around for decades than explain the multimillion dollar contract
It looks like the project is already a done deal: The project is out for bid next month, with construction in June and continue through the fall of 2019.
This was tried in St. Louis a few years ago. It didnt work, and was yanked out and discarded.
I wonder how many people will get tickets for speeds that switched downward after someone passed when seeing the posted higher speed?
Leave the normal speed limit signs and put up those banner signs that can freely change words.
We have these in Atlanta and they don’t work. People pay as much attention to them as they did the non-variable signs, which didn’t work very well either.
I can see it now,...the new changeable speed-limit signs, hacked to say...speed-limit 125 per hour, and *uck you!
Don't drive and cuss?
Nobody cares what the speed limit signs say in Glenwood Canyon. If there is no traffic they drive 75 mph. If there is traffic, its a 25 mile parking lot and they crawl at about 5 mph.
On Weekends, everybody is going he same direction at the same time and its the only way to get there.
BFD. We have variable speed limits (max 65) here on sections of 285 (Atlanta beltway) and people drive the same as ever. They're slow when the traffic is slow, and 75 - 80 when the traffic is light.
That’s what I figure. I give it 6 months before they are hacked and changed to something really high, really low, or even negative. If they are a grid (ie not a seven segment digit only display) they’ll end up with something pornographic or cats on them.
I've driven through Atlanta a few times and I have to say, that's quite an experience....... moreso than Chicago IMO.
“We have these in Atlanta and they dont work.”
We’re talking freeways with 10-16 lanes.
There’s something like a 1:100,000 ticket-to-speeder ratio.
Typical cruising speed is 80 MPH - even in a 55 zone. You’d have to be well over 90 MPH to get a cop’s attention.
Enforcing speed limits around Atlanta is practically impossible, short of the “super speeders” (actual legal term) going plainly way too fast.
If the variable-speed limit signs show lower numbers, traffic in general will naturally go slower - not because of signs, but because of conditions.
Stuttgart, my oh my. I was stationed in Goppingen, back in 1966-67. My buddy’s, 1953 VW, just could make 80 Km/h. Loved being stationed over there.
As 90% of drivers speed this system will make the roads safer just as effectively as gun laws in Chicago.
My husband swears everyone around Atlanta drives like they are in a Nascar race...(he has had to drive there a couple of times)
NASCAR literally started just outside Atlanta, up “the 400” in the Dawsonville area.
Moonshiners were prolific around there, and got really good at outrunning police - to the point they started holding races, birthing NASCAR.
I wonder if it's one of the same contractors that have been doing make-work projects in Grand Junction.
Where is the one which says “All Toyota Prius use RIGHT lane”
Most CO drivers are respectful and are good drivers.
Every once in awhile, you get someone from Boulder who wants to make a statement by driving 55 in a 70, in the passing lane.
my 2 cylinder Fiat Bambino could do 80 kmph - going downhill with a tail wind. . . . . .