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. silentcount

    I don't get it. You go as fast as the traffic allows until you reach the speed limit (or a little more). You don't need a sign to tell you to go 45 mph when that's what the traffic ahead of you is doing.

    September 25, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Random

      Driver: I was only going 70 in a 65. Police Officer: I know. The speed limit is 40 your 30 mph over the speed limit. This is a felony and you’re under arrest. Police Officer: Thank you for helping me fulfill my quota.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. borntothebreed7

    "The whole system will be a relative easy project to set up"

    Do you seriously not know what an adverb is? Was the writing of this article outsourced to India? This reads as if it were written by an elementary-school child.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Alfred E. Neuman

      Aren't there child labor laws?

      September 25, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Random

      Ha ha! Officer Driver: I was going 65mph. Officer: Yes, I know. The sign changed and now your a felon.

      September 25, 2012 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Seanyb33

    Statistically people who drive slower than the speed limit get into more accidents than people that drive faster... why put a cap on efficiency?

    September 25, 2012 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Anne

    Am I stupid or something? I don't see how raising the speed limit will reduce congestion. Too many cars will always be too many cars no matter how fast they are going. I imagine sand trying to trickle down through a bottle neck... even if you increase the speed of the sand, it doesn't solve the problem that only a certain amount of sand particles can fit through the bottle neck at once–therefore, even if the sand was moving very fast, it would still get backed up, it would still have to slow down at the bottle neck while the particles in front of it went through.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • truebob

      Because when their is heavy traffic developing ahead of you they can slow down your section and give the area ahead of you a chance to clear up before you get there.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Alfred E. Neuman

    "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."

    Isn't the entire effort about time?

    September 25, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Thomas

    maybe they can do a better job of pulling it off then Florida did for Orlando... 8pm driving I4 through downtown Orlando has a regular speed limit of 65...but the variable system switches it down to 35-45...and there's NO TRAFFIC!!! The cops have stopped pulling over, no one obeys the variable systems when it's ridiculously posted... Hope ATL does a better job w/ it.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry

    Wake up Martin! Your job is to communicate. Learn how to use the language. Even if half of your readers can't discern the clumsy grammar, the other half cringes at the lack of professionalism. J

    September 25, 2012 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. 66Biker

    Too many cars going 45 mph is considerably better than too many cars going 65 mph. Or as I know they do in Atlanta, going 95 mph. It's too bad they can't think of a safer solution, like better public transportation or something.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. allenwoll

    dumb, dumber, DUMBEST ! ! ! . In context !

    September 25, 2012 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. G. Underwood

    Looks like a way to give out more tickets to me. Raise revenue. Not alot of people obey the limits anyway in ATL.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Sounds like a great speed trap to me. Your driving along and the signs say 85MPH. Then between one sign and another they change to 65MPH, then blue lights and tickets.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. gbimmer

    Traffic congestion is now a major issue for most cities these day, so anything to alleviate the congestion cannot hurt. However, some drivers will be more prone to get tickets if they are not paying close attention to the variable speed limits.

    September 25, 2012 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. DopWin

    This seems really dumb. More of a way to control people. Had they said they were going to go at the posted speed or higher, maybe I could understand. I fail to see how lowering the speed limit will help at all. And I really love how they use the 85mph TX speed-limit as an example to get support for this by duping (gullible) people into believing the speed limit will go up to 85mph in other states. This is how stupid our "leadership" thinks we are. "None of the above" people, "None of the above"!

    September 25, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. moreelectronicjunk

    this sounds good on paper and in theory, but , if it is like most "technology", it will take more brain power to operate it than it is worth. I feel bad for those commuters, their travel route just got another downgrade.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. moreelectronicjunk

    here's another idea.................more lanes? That would make too much sense.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
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