SESA deploys dynamic ‘Trailblazer’ signs for Michigan I-75 corridor project


The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has deployed the first phase of a network of dynamic ‘Trailblazer’ signs, as part of its integrated corridor management program along I-75.

SES America Inc. (SESA) recently completed the manufacturing and installation of full color LED Dynamic Trailblazer Signs for MDOT, and is set to soon begin manufacturing additional signs for the next phase of this ongoing work. The signs are part of an integrated corridor management (ICM) program along I-75 that has been designed by MDOT, which is intended to keep drivers on the road informed in real time about highway conditions, and provide alternative routes at times of congestion or incidents. Each sign is part of SESA’s Messenger 5000 embedded dynamic message signs (DMS) series, a line of embedded DMS designed to display travel time, toll rate, lane status or traffic control information. As part of this project, the embedded DMS is intended to divert and manage the influx of traffic, and reduce traffic queues and congestion on freeways for both Macomber and Oakland counties.

The signs feature a full color display capable of showing a variety of arrows that re-direct traffic as necessary onto surface roads and alternate routes. The signs are controlled by SESA’s state-of-the-art NTCIP-compliant SCU6 controller housed in field cabinets near each site. Each sign is placed at strategic locations and display the indicative arrow only when needed. This combination of static sign and embedded dynamic display is very cost effective, advantageously replacing an entire full color/full matrix DMS. Cutting edge, energy-efficient technology was used to minimize the quantity and size of command, control, and power components, which allowed the components to be installed in a small NEMA 4X cabinet attached to each sign structure for the initial deployment.

On the subsequent deployment, this design was further refined, allowing all components to be installed within the sign itself, while maintaining the slim sign housing design required for the project. Each sign housing has a depth of less than 4 inches (10cm), which allows for easy flush-mounted installation to the static sign panels that hold each dynamic Trailblazer sign. Each sign was manufactured in the USA at SESA’s main production facility in Warwick, Rhode Island. Installation of the signs was done by J Ranck Electric, based out of Mt Pleasant, Michigan.

Manufacturing will continue into early summer, with deployment of the remaining signs tentatively set for later this year. To lower installation and operation costs, similar embedded DMS models with solar-powered capabilities are available for more remote locations, which may be required later in the project. SESA’s SolarSign 5000 series is ideal for this type of application. With the same housing and display properties connected to the grid, a solar sign has no operation costs and does not require costly and time-consuming trenching and cabling for power and communication.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).