Pennsylvania DOT announces plan to improve traffic management on I-76

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PennDOT secretary Leslie S. Richards has announced a long-range, comprehensive, multi-modal transportation management plan designed to enhance travel along the Interstate 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) corridor between King of Prussia and Philadelphia.

The plan includes expanded public transit, improved traffic management on I-76 and local roads, and potential trail improvements.

“The importance of this corridor to the Philadelphia region cannot be overstated and it’s imperative that we take advantage of new technologies and partner with SEPTA [Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority] and other key stakeholders to offer citizens more attractive options for travel between Philadelphia and the northwest suburbs,” says Richards. “This corridor-wide strategy consists of several elements to improve travel whether you’re driving on the expressway, riding SEPTA’s regional rail, or bicycling along the Schuylkill River Trail.”

Richards says the transportation management plan includes several components, including the deployment of Active Traffic Management (ATM) technologies on I-76.

PennDOT plans to employ a series of ATM strategies on the four-lane,12 mile section of I-76 in Montgomery County to enhance multi-modal travel and safety.

In partnership with SEPTA, PennDOT also plans to provide real-time transit information on electronic message signs along I-76 in conjunction with SEPTA’s potential deployment of a Smart Parking pilot program at a new garage and station targeted to be built in Conshohocken near the existing regional rail station.

The message board displays will inform motorists of transit station parking availability and real-time train departure times to better inform citizens of transit travel options. The station will also provide bicycle storage facilities as the station is directly adjacent to Schuylkill River Trail.

PennDOT also proposes to modernize traffic signal systems on several roads running parallel to I-76 between King of Prussia and install variable speed limits and queue detectors on I-76 between the Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange at Valley Forge and U.S. 1 (City Avenue) to smooth traffic and enhance safety. Construction is expected to start in late 2017, with the systems becoming operational by late 2018. The construction estimate is US$2.2 million.

This project consists of installing a series of electronic signs on I-76 to display official speed limits that can change based on real-time expressway, traffic and weather conditions to improve traffic flow and warn drivers to changing travel conditions. Queue detectors will provide real-time displays of electronic warning messages, coupled with flashing lights, to alert motorists of significant slowdowns ahead to reduce sudden stopping and the potential for rear-end crashes.

These new devices will operate in conjunction with the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components in place on I-76 in Montgomery County and Philadelphia. The existing ITS equipment includes 42 highway cameras, nine electronic message boards, 14 travel time readers, 58 incident detectors, and two expressway safety patrol tow trucks.

In addition, PennDOT will start preliminary engineering this fall to transform the outside shoulders of I-76 into part-time travel lanes between the Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange at Valley Forge and Interstate 476, and on I-76 west between U.S. 1/Roosevelt Boulevard and Belmont Avenue interchanges.

To complement part-time shoulder use on I-76, PennDOT may also include ramp metering, junction control, dynamic lane assignments and multimodal enhancements.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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