To aid traffic flow for tens of thousands of drivers, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is turning to new technology in the form of Bluetooth-based roadway sensors sited in the Interstate 15 median, which will provide real-time travel information during construction work beginning later this spring.
Between this spring and next year, ITD will resurface deteriorated pavement on I-15 in eastern Idaho and make numerous bridge repairs. Construction will include multiple work zones along a 140 mile (225km) stretch of I-15 between Utah and Montana. More than 50 Bluetooth sensors will be attached to poles, rather than sign posts, and connected to portable message signs located at the beginning of construction zones to communicate traffic impacts ahead. The sensors pick up the Bluetooth signal on smartphones, connected devices, or in-built systems fitted to vehicles as they pass any two points in the work zone, and the times between them are calculated in order to find average travel speeds in that sector of highway.
ITD will also make the real-time travel data available to the public through a mobile app that is being developed, and is also working to place the information on the agency’s project website. The sensors will help ITD monitor traffic conditions during the summer/autumn construction period, as well as during the winter months, when adverse weather conditions can impact travel times. Similar Bluetooth sensors have been used successfully at various places in Idaho and Utah. The sensors will be removed once construction is complete on I-15. Additional sensors will be installed on the surrounding arterial routes US 20 and US 91 during the same timeframe.
“This technology will give us reliable traffic data that we can use to maximize traffic flow and make our work zones safer,” explained Dan Harelson, ITD District 5 engineering manager. “ITD is asking motorists to plan extra time to travel through construction. Pay attention to signage and changing traffic patterns this summer.”