ITS system has potential to add 15% capacity to the interstate system without widening highways
Memphis-area commuters now have a new view of Bluff City traffic. With the press of a button, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely launched TDOT SmartWay, the Memphis area’s new intelligent transportation system, on Thursday, Nov. 13. The new system, controlled from a state-of-the-art Transportation Management Center (TMC) on Boswell Avenue in Memphis, is expected to make highway travel in the region safer and more user-friendly.
The new Memphis TDOT SmartWay system includes 115 traffic cameras, 42 dynamic message signs, more than 350 speed/congestion monitoring stations to spot interruptions in traffic flow and a city-wide highway advisory radio station broadcasting on AM 1660. The system helps keep Memphis motorists informed about road conditions by providing up-to-the-minute traffic information to help drivers avoid problems on the road.
“Keeping motorists informed about the roadway ahead is important in addressing congestion on our major urban roadways,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen. “This technology allows TDOT to communicate directly with motorists and help them make more-informed decisions as they travel Tennessee’s highways.”
The new system also helps TDOT officials monitor traffic flow and respond quickly to problems on the road.
“Widening our roadways cannot be the only option for improving traffic flow in urban areas,” said Nicely. “The SmartWay systems in Nashville and Knoxville have made big differences in reducing congestion and I know this system will have a positive impact for commuters here in Memphis.”
According to Nicely, TDOT SmartWay has the potential to add 15% capacity to the interstate system without widening the roadway. The total cost of the project is $36.8 million. The TMC is now able to monitor 85 miles of interstate with this system.
Anyone can access the traffic-camera images by visiting the TDOT SmartWay website (www.tdot.state.tn.us/tdotsmartway). In addition, Memphis television stations now also have access to live feeds from the TDOT SmartWay cameras.
TDOT’s SmartWay system was first implemented in Nashville on June 12, 2003, then in Knoxville on May 9, 2005. A project is now under way to expand the system to Chattanooga, and the department plans to extend traffic cameras into more rural areas in the future.