State and local officials were on-hand for a ceremony last week commencing work on intelligent transportation system (ITS)-based safety improvements on I-75 south of Gainesville in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Florida DOT is focusing on this region in response to a series of deadly crashes in January 2012 that killed 11 and injured 21 others.
The prairie area is one prone to low-lying fog in cool, moist conditions. Brush fires are also a concern, and in some cases smoke can mix with fog to reduce visibility even further, a suspected cause for the series of crashes in early 2012.
Traffic cameras will be at the heart of the new ITS system, both standard and infrared models. Florida DOT will also install a series of eight visibility sensors at car-level, which will clue authorities in to worsening conditions. Back from the road, a thermal camera will be installed in the middle of the prairie to monitor fog accumulation. A series of 12 closed-circuit television cameras will also be installed along I-75 in 1-mile intervals from Archer Road to the Marion County line.
All of the equipment will relay information back to the Gainesville Traffic Management Center. From there, engineers can relay warnings and other alerts to drivers via three new dynamic message signs being installed—two northbound and one southbound.
Florida DOT said the total cost for the entire ITS project will be $2.1 million, with construction completion targeted for early 2015.