Posted on August 02, 2012 3:55 PM
Smart Work Zones
According to the Transportation Research Board, about 20 percent of the National Highway System is under construction each year. In 2010, nearly 600 people died in work zone crashes, 32 of them in Illinois. The Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are using Smart Work Zones, an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) based program, to make travel through and around work zones safer and more efficient. Smart Work Zones include portable electronic message boards to communicate with drivers, portable traffic sensors to monitor traffic flow and slow downs, and portable camera units to provide a view of the work zone. Technology can even help with work zone speed limit enforcement. IDOT staff reported a significant downward trend in the number of speeding violations after message boards began to display the number of citations issued. There have been challenges in implementing the Smart Work Zone program, such as coordinating the efforts of multiple contractors and ensuring that the equipment deployed by contractors can communicate with the agency traffic and incident management systems. However, these challenges are expected to be eliminated as time passes, and Smart Work Zones become standard practice for every road construction project. The U.S. Department of Transportation Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program has many examples of how ITS technology is being deployed in work zones nationwide.