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.

Post by:
Filed under: Georgia • Wyoming
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Ranked #1 worst city traffic in terms of sitting idly: Chicago.
    As anyone who lives/traveled through knows.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • phunk

      I spend about ten hours of my life, every week, on I-90.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I believe it.
      I90 is one of the worst.
      I *hate* driving I90.
      I hate driving in Chicago, period, lol.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cobra Jim

    No one pays any attention to the speed limits anyhow. Especially on 75, 85, or 285.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    On the interstate, I follow trucker convoys and usually average the safest speed and I've never gotten a ticket, even at night when pulling close to 90 in a convoy. When on a freeway in the city, blow up the doll and head for the car pool lane!

    September 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy King

      what semi driver does 90mph? Aren't they governed between 60-75mph?

      September 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    "We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. We're gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline. This is a team they say is... is good, well I think we're better than them. They can't lick us, so what do you say men? "

    September 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Richard Cheney

    Yeah, the traffic in Wyoming is just * horrible *. Of course, I'm usually on my private jet subsidized by tax payers but still....

    September 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MidtownDriver

    During peak traffic the speed never reaches 25mph. What are the signs gonna do? Are they gonna say move fast and bump in the care ahead of you.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I just don't know. They sound more like a bunch of frenzied hackers, that want to take complete control of time based livery services, ambulance ETA's, corporate travel itineraries.
    When you have too many travelers and not enough roadway, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out it is a "physical flow issue". If you think you simply got to buy electronic signs, why don't you have a free GDOT speed app for all the iPhones, since thats where drivers are going to be anyways. They ain't going to follow the speed limit no matter what you post, regardless if it's on a board, iPhone, or a piece of toilet paper.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy Wilson (D-Illinois)

      Are all people from ohio as stupid as you are Jeff?

      September 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. georgia-auburn

    A couple of years back, my wife and I drove from Atl to Yellowstone, WY. Georgia DOT wanting to implement variable speed limits and backing it up cause it is working in Wyoming???? I think more folks live inside the ATL perimeter than the whole of Wyoming. Let's hope it helps I guess...

    September 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • G. Underwood

      I lived in Cheyenne for three years. WHAT Traffic, you have to be kidding!

      September 25, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. joe driver

    Oh, yes, another bright idea by the not so sharpest of pencils in the box. It does not matter if the speed limit is 500 MPH, people in cities slow down to a crawl if there is any point where they have fear of entering traffic on city freeway. Houston, a most notorious traffic jam would not change one bit. Nor is any other city. There are spots on the highway that people will always slow down to a crawl during rush hour traffic. If you made the speed limit 30 MPH in these stretches they will still do 5 MPH. It is the old Pavlov's dog thing. If it is rush hour and you are in a spot that slows down, you will be driving slow. as long as more than 25 cars are on the highway. It is their nature of habit and fear. Any place along the highway that has a hill, man made or not, during peak traffic, they will intentionally slow down to avoid the accident that is not going to happen. Anyone pulled over to the side with car trouble draws rubber necker's which slow down just to se what see what is not necessary to see. Variable speed limit equals variable speed trap. Just change the sign and write the ticket. More money in the coffers to waste on stupid pet projects. Welcome to the land of govern by idiots.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Kieser

      Well, that's weird, since it's been working here in Seattle ever since we got it. Huh. Maybe we're just filled with less consipracy theorists here. *shrugs*

      September 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sarah P.

    Hey, I can see Russia from my car!

    September 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. keith

    only in houston where a double amputy is killed by police for threating them with a pen , keep up the killing dillweed pigs

    September 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Patrick

    they have in st. louis for 6 months and then stop changing the speeds, due to it not working and drivers agruing tickets and I drive thru ATL every year, ATL is much worse than STL for traffic

    September 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Davohn

    The photo in this story captures our problem here in ATL beautifully....over a DOZEN lanes of traffic and ridiculously undersized mass transit. Speed limits are a farce...particularly during rush hour...

    September 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric

    An Absoluite waste of money. We have it in Seattle and it does nothing.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Kieser

      Says who? I've noticed a marked difference in congestion going north into the city at +/-1 peak hours.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Coflyboy

    The only thing that will cut down on congestion is if more people take mass transit. It is cheaper too. That includes you and you and you and me and you....
    When your car is stopped and idling you get the worst gas mileage imaginable: 0 MPG

    September 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rickpat

      When I eat burritos I get the worst gas imaginable..

      September 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8