The I-15/Starr Avenue interchange project in Clark County, Nev., has aimed, since its inception, to reduce crashes and alleviate local-road congestion—and a new, fairly simple safety measure has Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) officials optimistic that incident reduction will happen swiftly and be permanent.
There were 279 wrong-way driver crashes on Nevada’s overall freeway system from 2005 to 2015, according to NDOT data, which resulted in 41 fatalities and 125 injuries.
For the I-15/Starr interchange, NDOT requested and received permission from the Federal Highway Administration to experiment with a system using vehicle detection, cameras and red rectangular rapid-flashing beacons. Permission was sought because red rapid rectangular-flashing beacons are not ordinarily permitted per federal standards.
Project plans call for two units, costing $100,000-$150,000 each.
“The wrong-way signs are pole-mounted, electrically powered and self-contained,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia told the Las Vegas Sun. “Flashing red lights mounted atop and below the ‘wrong way’ sign activate, flashing a warning. Drivers react to flashing alerts and routinely self-correct.”
“As wrong-way accidents become more commonplace, traffic professionals have been tasked with preventing these deadly collisions,” Illia said. “Wrong-way detection signs have been proven to reduce wrong-way events by 38 percent, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.”
NDOT will place cameras at or near the beginning of the ramp to monitor activity and measure the system’s effectiveness. The scope of the project design consists of raising the I-15 freeway over Starr Avenue, while Starr Avenue remains at its existing grade.