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New electronic information signs go live on I-90 near Bellevue

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Date:  Monday, April 30, 2012

Contact: Kris Olsen, WSDOT Communications, 206-440-4475

BELLEVUE –Interstate 90 drivers heading eastbound near Bellevue will have more real-time information available on Tuesday, May 1, when 36 new electronic highway signs go live in time for the morning commute.

Washington State Department of Transportation crews are making final adjustments to the electronic speed-limit and lane-status signs on eastbound I-90 between West Mercer Way and 130th Avenue Northeast. Signs between I-5 and West Mercer Way went online in June 2011. Crews waited for completion of the I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operations, Stage 2 project before turning on these remaining signs.

The signs are part of the Active Traffic Management system to reduce collisions and keep traffic moving on I-90, a key cross-lake commuting corridor. Approximately 60 percent of the collisions on I-90 are congestion-related. The signs are already operational on two other key commuting routes: Interstate 5 and State Route 520.

“The growing demands on our transportation system mean we have to meet the challenge using every tool we can,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We’re using this technology to operate the system efficiently and make the best use of existing lanes by reducing crashes that cause more congestion.”

There are 289 variable-speed-limit, lane-status and message signs now working on I-5, I-90 and SR 520.

The system uses the overhead lane signs to alert drivers to reduce their speed or change lanes when lanes ahead are blocked or closed. This helps reduce last-minute lane changes and panic braking, primary factors contributing to collisions.

Since the system began operating in August 2010 on northbound I-5 between Boeing Access Road and I-90, reported collisions in that section have steadily decreased. The last three months of 2011 have one of the lowest collision rates in the past four years. Collision data for SR 520 and I-90 is still in the early stages of study since construction work and tolling must be factored into the analysis.

This technology is a vital component of Moving Washington, WSDOT’s statewide strategy for improving mobility. The program uses new tools and technologies to better manage congestion by using existing freeways more efficiently. The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project funded the $22.5 million project on I-5 to help keep people and goods moving during the tunnel construction. A $42 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration Urban Partnership financed the signs on SR 520 and I-90.

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