Transportation planners in Atlanta, ranked 11th in North America for worst city traffic, are reaching into their bag of tricks for a way to control driving speeds based on real-time conditions.
The Georgia Department of Transportation will be installing new electronic variable speed limit signs along the northern half of Interstate 285. The speed limits will range between 45 mph and 65 mph, and they will fluctuate depending on traffic volume and weather conditions.
"We have been considering this legislation for about three years," said Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden. "We want to give drivers a speed limit that they'll be more compliant to."
According The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the idea is to reduce stop-and-go driving and discourage frequent lane changes.
The whole system will be a relative easy project to set up, according to Golden. Work on the installation of the electronic signs is set to begin next month, and the system should be up and running by next summer.
“You’re able to move more traffic through with the variable sign system," Golden said.
Georgia isn't alone in this way of thinking. Washington, Virginia, Wyoming and other states have implemented a variable speed limit system along their highways.
According to a study by the Wyoming Department of Transportation, DOT officials from those states contend the system is working. Pat Persson, a district engineer in Wyoming, said the public reaction in general has been "very positive about these variable speed limits."
Traffic seems to be a concern for a lot of states. This month, the Texas Department of Transportation approved an increase in the speed limit on Texas State Highway 130 to a record 85 mph. The reasoning is the same as for Georgia – to help move traffic more efficiently.
According to Golden, there isn't necessarily a time frame for success for the Georgia project; however, if it manages to help congestion, then expect other highways in the Atlanta area, such as I-85, to receive the system as well.