Atlanta turns to variable speed limit system to relieve highway congestion
Atlanta ranked as the 11th worst traffic city in North America, according to one study.
September 24th, 2012
02:31 PM ET

Atlanta turns to variable speed limit system to relieve highway congestion

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.

Atlanta ranked as 11th worst traffic city (PDF)

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.

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Filed under: Georgia • Wyoming
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. DAJ

    Transportation planners in Atlanta need to be overhauled. I understand that traffic in Atlanta is bad, but the plans they come up with to alleviate are always worse. Just as reversible lanes should never be an option in Atlanta, neither should variable speed limits. Slowing down 285 to anything under 65 mph is absurd and will cause more problems, traffic jam, and road rage.

    September 30, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. krehator

    It's funny how the govt keeps trying to make new laws regarding driving safety, yet keeps increasing speed limits.

    Talk about st0000pid.

    September 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • E Lewis

      Higher speed does not have to = unsafe. Germany has proven that you can go quite fast and lo and behold people still make it home everyday and have a lower percentage of accidents than us Americans. Perhaps its not speed, but skill. Germans are serious about their driving, and they are known for driving in the car and not eating, drinking, texting, and other distractions. I personally break the law more often in my speed than not, yet in more than 15 years have never had an at fault accident. Poor driving skill/decision making causes accidents.. and often these bad decisions happen at speeds that are not excessive.. just poor driver skill and lack of attention.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. anb740

    The current speed limit on I-285 is 55mph. Except for "rush" hour, if you drive less than 75-80mph, you'll likely be run off the road by another driver! (or constantly cut off) The truck drivers refer to it as the Watermelon 500. The biggest problem is people who get in the fast lanes and drive slower than anyone else. THAT is what backs up traffic!

    October 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ksheff13

    Attention GSP/Public Safety or whatever your official name is now: please pull over the idiots driving UNDER the speed limit during rush hour (clarification- 6:30-10am and 3:30-8pm) for being safety hazards to the majority of Atlanta commuters. Fine them double for being incompetent. This should increase revenue and contribute to alleviating the deficit in some small fashion. Additionally, please refrain from blocking the left lane of the interstate with violators and causing traffic to be worse than it already is, and perhaps the public will give you kudos for actually making a difference. Thanks!

    October 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
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