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PennDOT Advances Smart Work Zones

March 04, 2021 07:00 AM
By: Rich Kirkpatrick, PennDOT Bureau of Innovations

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​In our ongoing effort to improve the safety, mobility, and situational awareness for road users traveling through work zones, PennDOT has embraced evolving technology and is making significant advances with our Integrated Smart Work Zone Initiative.

"We have seen meaningful progress," said Daniel P. Farley, P.E., chief of the Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Operations and Performance Section. "We are looking to implement new technologies and new strategies."

New advances will be piloted over the winter on projects on Interstate 78 in eastern Pennsylvania and on Interstate 83 in south central Pennsylvania.

The improvements being considered include upgraded systems to alert travelers in real time to backups forming approaching work zones, variable speed limit signs, ramp metering to regulate traffic flow, travel time messaging, and Integrated Corridor Management (ICM).

PennDOT's first use of the ICM approach was used on Aramingo Avenue adjacent to Interstate 95 in Philadelphia.

"If we have a traffic signal system parallel to an expressway, we have the ability to establish coordinated plans to evaluate queues and congestion and in some cases redirect or suggest redirection of traffic to the arterial network with enhanced signs and timing done in an automated fashion," Farley said.

Software upgrades associated with the ongoing Interstate 76 traffic improvement project also opened the door to these advanced traffic strategies, Farley said.

Aside from the smarter work zone strategies, PennDOT also implemented speed camera enforcement in March 2020. There are 17 camera vehicles posted statewide, and there have been more than 2,000 deployments statewide, Farley said.

Smart Work Zones
"We have a lot of good information helping us improve how we do work zone designs moving forward, how we implement speed limit reduction policy as well as better understand how we improve safety of our workers," Farley said.

"As this data continues to improve and as other data becomes more available, PennDOT will continue to look at opportunities to identify, plan, and implement effective Smart Work Zone applications that overall provide a safety and mobility benefit to road users and workers on each project," Farley noted.

Smarter Work Zones is a Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts Round 3 (EDC-3) innovation that Pennsylvania championed and promoted through the Pennsylvania State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC).

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