ADOT testing traffic management tech through I-15 bridge project in Gorge

ST. GEORGE — In an effort to reduce emergency braking and collisions that can occur as traffic slows and stops due to continuing work on the bridges through the Virgin River Gorge, the Arizona Department of Transportation has rolled out a system designed to let motorists know what’s ahead of them.

Traffic backed up in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Arizona, date unspecified | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Called the Queue Warning System, Sgt. John Bottoms of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said it consists of a system of sensors and mobile bulletin boards set up along northbound Interstate 15 starting at the Nevada border.

The sensors register how fast traffic is going and relays the information to the bulletin boards several miles ahead of them. If the sensors pick up slowed or stopped traffic, the bulletin boards will relay a message to drivers telling them to expect delayed traffic down the road.

“It will let you know miles in advance,” said Ryan Harding, ADOT public information officer.

Currently, two bridges along the Arizona stretch of I-15 are being resurfaced while another is receiving a new deck. This has reduced traffic through these areas to a single lane.

According to a press release from ADOT, motorists who pay attention to the queue warning system will know they need to slow down and possibly prepare to stop a few miles down the road, avoiding the need to slam on the brakes or swerve out of the way of slowed or stopped traffic.

Signs with I-15 in the background, Mohave County, Arizona, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

“Particularly during peak travel times and holidays, the traffic can build through there, so traffic can come upon stop-and-go or stopped traffic … We hope (the system) will help reduce collisions in the queue,” Harding said.

While this is the first time the system has been used on an ADOT project, going forward the agency intends to use it on projects creating similar traffic conditions.

Bottoms said he’s seen the benefit the system can provide to drivers who pay attention and plan their travel accordingly.

“We have seen some people acknowledge and use it to see if they need to use Old Highway 91 instead,” Bottoms said. “We’ve also seen a number of people ignore them.”

Currently, only the northbound part of I-15 through Arizona has been outfitted with the Queue Warning System. Work being done on the three I-15 bridges is part of an overall $6.4 million improvement project that is slated to wrap up by next spring.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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