Arizona DOT efforts to improve highway safety win national honors

The adjusted U.S. 60 lanes in Tempe and wrong-way pilot system in Phoenix were recognized

December 13, 2018
U.S. 60 exit to I-10 in Tempe, Ariz.

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) efforts that have improved safety on a busy stretch of westbound U.S. 60 in Tempe and advanced a first-in-the-nation system that reduces the risk from wrong-way drivers have been honored by the National Operations Center of Excellence.

The organization is presenting its Best Transportation Systems Management and Operations Project Award (Creative Solution) to ADOT for lane adjustments as well as new signs that have improved traffic conditions and dramatically reduced minor, rear-end crashes on westbound U.S. 60 approaching I-10.

The runner-up for Best Transportation Systems Management and Operations Project (Creative Solution) is ADOT’s pilot system using technology to reduce the risk from wrong-way drivers along 15 miles of I-17 in Phoenix.

On westbound U.S. 60, a July 2018 project that changed lane striping to allow a second left lane to eastbound I-10, complemented by new signage, has improved overall traffic flow in the freeway’s left lanes. Compared to the five years before this improvement, crashes in those lanes have declined by 90% during afternoon peak hours. ADOT’s Transportation Systems Management and Operations division partnered with the city of Tempe and the Arizona Department of Public Safety to study and implement the U.S. 60 safety measures. 

The runner-up award for the I-17 wrong-way pilot system also honored stationing an Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) trooper at ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center in Phoenix as part of a comprehensive response designed to help law enforcement respond faster to wrong-way incidents than rely on 911 calls from other motorists. Since it went into operation in January 2018, this system, using thermal cameras to immediately alert ADOT and AZDPS, has detected more than 40 wrong-way vehicles, most of which turned around on ramps without entering the freeway. The system uses decision-support software to quickly alert other drivers to the danger through overhead message boards and ramp meter lights that hold on red to warn drivers not to enter the freeway. On off-ramps, self-illuminated wrong-way signs with flashing red LEDs attempt to get the attention of wrong-way drivers, most of whom are impaired.


News & image source: Arizona DOT