Testing Begins For $79M State-Of-The-Art Traffic Signs Planned For I-80 East Bay Corridor

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KCBS)— Traffic planners are ready to test new state-of-the-art signs that have been installed over a 20-mile stretch of westbound I-80 in the East Bay. It’s part of an effort to ease the commute between Richmond and Emeryville at a price tag of $79 million.

It’s called the I-80 SMART Corridor Project and its most visible part is the 11 electronic signs over the freeway. Spokesperson Ivy Morrison said during the testing phase those signs will display green arrows, red x’s and the word “Test”. Testing will continue intermittently through the summer, and, according to the planners, will take place when traffic volumes are lowest.

“The signs are going to provide real-time information to the motoring public and the purpose of providing real-time public information is to enhance motorist safety,” she said.

That includes notice of what lanes are blocked and updated traffic speeds. The advance warning signs can adjust the speed limit according to traffic conditions and warn drivers to reduce speeds due to blocked lanes or incidents. In addition, it can give them alternate routes on the freeway while they’re driving.

The system relies on roadway sensors and cameras that will feed information to a traffic management center. Drivers who detour are directed back on to the freeway once they’ve passed the incident, by electronic signs on San Pablo Avenue and some other local roads.

“This is the largest most sophisticated system of its kind in the entire state of California,” Morrison said.

The goal is for the I-80 Smart Corridor Project to be fully operational later this year.

Arthur Dao, the executive director of the Alameda Transportation Commission says it’s “Huge benefits for a low cost.”

According to planners, travelling the eight miles from Richmond to Emeryville can range anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on traffic.

The project was developed through a partnership between the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC), the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the West Contra Costa County Transportation Committee (WCCTAC) in collaboration with transit agencies and nine municipalities along the corridor.

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