The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is nearing completion on a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) project in its District 2 that aims to ease traffic congestion on busy highway corridors in DeSoto County.
The CMAQ project in DeSoto County is part of MDOT’s long-term program of overhauling and upgrading its statewide Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) that will give motorists advance warning of crashes, travel times to major intersections, and other important messages.
This project will have a significant impact on the traveling public’s daily commute. Studies show that the ITS components used in a CMAQ project can reduce traffic backups and delays by as much as 20%. As traffic efficiency improves, it will reduce the amount of time vehicles are on the roads.
Shorter travel times result in fewer vehicle emissions, which in turn leads to improved air quality in the area. Traffic conditions are monitored in real-time using live streaming traffic monitoring cameras. Traffic Management Center (TMC) operators then provide alerts to motorists through the DMS boards.
The overall CMAQ project will include the installation of: 148 CCTV cameras; nine dynamic message signs (DMS); 44 Bluetooth monitoring devices to provide travel time measurements; 41 radar detection systems to measure traffic volume; three travel time information signs; and two traveler information video kiosks located at the nearby rest area and welcome center. So far, MDOT crews have installed four overhead DMS boards along Interstate 55, one along US Highway 78, and an 80ft (24m) high CCTV camera pole on State Route 302. Remaining work involves installing all cable, conduit and fiber optics at each DMS location.
New DMS have gone live and are already providing motorists with estimated travel times on Goodman Road (SR 302), from Olive Branch to Horn Lake. Nearly 40,000 vehicles use this stretch of roadway each day. The traffic sensors and cameras have been installed, and MDOT is currently testing the equipment through a ‘burn-in period’ to ensure proper functionality. MDOT is in the process of gathering data and adjusting algorithms using the new system, with the CMAQ project expected to be complete by summer 2018.
“DeSoto County is one of the fastest growing population centers in Mississippi,” explained Mike Tagert, MDOT commissioner for the Northern Transportation District. “As the population increases, so does the number of vehicles on roadways. The CMAQ Project will positively affect travel times and traffic delays in the area. This project will enhance MDOT’s ability to monitor and manage traffic. Using the cameras and traffic sensors along Goodman Road will allow operators in the TMC to remotely monitor patterns and make adjustments to improve traffic flow during peak usage times.
“In addition to saving time for the traveling public, the new system will improve air quality, as vehicles idle for shorter times at traffic control signals. The new features will allow MDOT to not only increase information distributed to the traveling public, but also improve emergency response and incident clearance times.”