Reading, Pa., drivers no longer have to wonder whether the route they are on is the quickest way to their destination, according to the Reading Eagle.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has completed a $1.5 million project to add communication and traffic-monitoring technology to I-176 and part of the West Shore Bypass, a major area road.
The new system includes two real-time traffic cameras, with one at either end of I-176, and four electronic message boards, with one at each end of I-176 and two on the West Shore Bypass as drivers approach the I-176 interchange from each direction. The West Shore Bypass is the part of Rte. 422 from Exeter Township to Rte. 12 in Reading.
PennDOT also installed two radio transmitters that will broadcast traffic alerts, and five signs that flash during an incident and signal drivers to tune into the station for more information.
The project marks the first step toward traffic-management technology in the Reading area. Similar systems are used around cities such as Harrisburg and Allentown on major highways, including I-78.
The cameras allow PennDOT to monitor the roads in real time. It can then use the radio station and signs to warn drivers immediately.
Being able to relay a closed exit or accident gives drivers a chance to change routes before they get stuck in traffic, said PennDOT spokesman Ronald J. Young Jr.
The signs went live this month and were used for the first time to warn drivers about slippery road conditions during a recent snowstorm.
The I-176 project is just the beginning. A plan for Berks County sets aside nearly $3 million to expand similar technology to the West Shore Bypass in coming years.
The signs are also used to display safety reminders, and PennDOT sometimes allows municipalities to display messages to help direct traffic during major events like a concert or graduation, Young said.
While such technology does take an investment, it is a less expensive alternative to other modes of addressing traffic congestion, such as adding additional lanes to the highway, Young said.