I-76 Shoulder Closures Next Week for Installation of “Intelligent Transporation Systems” in Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties

Earlier this week PennDOT announced that shoulders along Interstate 76 will be closed next week to allow for the installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

From the press release:

This work is part of a PennDOT program to employ a series of smart corridor strategies and technologies over the next several years through an integrated corridor management initiative intended to maximize capacity on I-76, optimize traffic flow on adjacent roadways and incentivize transit, bicycle, and pedestrian travel throughout the corridor.

This first phase of the plan, which got underway this summer, includes installing a series of Variable Speed Limit (VSL) and Queue Warning (QW) systems on I-76 in Montgomery County. The VSL systems will display regulatory speed limits that can change based on real-time expressway, traffic and weather conditions to improve traffic flow and safety by warning drivers of changing travel conditions. The QW systems will be deployed to provide real-time displays of electronic warning messages to alert motorists of significant slowdowns ahead to reduce sudden stopping and the potential for rear-end crashes.

Construction on the first phase will be completed in summer 2019 followed by a six-month testing period.

Here is a video on the project:

In regards to the closures, they will be from Monday, October 29th through Friday, November 2nd from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • I-76 East and West between Montgomery Drive and the Pennsylvania Turnpike
  • U.S. 422/U.S. 202 ramp to I-76 East

I-76 East ramp to Interstate 476 North

More on the ITS:

Preliminary design is currently underway on the next phase of this corridor-wide transportation management plan which will include the modernization of traffic signal systems along several roadways running near the expressway; transforming the existing shoulders on portions of I-76 to accommodate an additional travel lane or “flexible” travel lane during peak travel times; and expansion of public transit service along the Manayunk/Norristown regional rail line.

To complement “flexible” lane use on I-76, PennDOT will incorporate additional smart corridor initiatives such as:

Ramp Metering: Red and green traffic signals to control the frequency with which vehicles enter the flow of traffic from entrance ramps to increase vehicle throughput during peak hours and increase expressway speeds;
Junction Control: The use of overhead electronic signs over travel lanes to regulate or close lanes at merge areas to improve traffic flow at high-volume interchanges, including U.S. 202/U.S. 422, I-476 and U.S. 1;
Dynamic Lane Assignments: Overhead electronic signs provide information for each travel lane on the expressway to identify open lanes and alert drivers of upcoming lane closures due to crashes or disabled vehicles; and
Multimodal Enhancements: In partnership with SEPTA, PennDOT plans to provide real-time transit information on electronic message signs along I-76 in conjunction with SEPTA’s potential deployment of a Smart Parking pilot program. The message board displays will inform motorists of transit station parking availability and real-time train departure times to better inform citizens of transit travel options. SEPTA also intends to enhance service on the Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail line.

PennDOT will also coordinate with Montgomery County, the City of Philadelphia, and other agencies to seek opportunities to upgrade the Schuylkill River Trail and other multimodal trails along the corridor with improvements, such as better wayfinding, parking and lighting to make this mode a more attractive commuter option.

PennDOT is currently coordinating with the Pennsylvania State Police and other EMS agencies to enhance emergency response along the corridor.

The I-76 active traffic management plan was developed from a feasibility study of I-76 in Montgomery County. The study, which began in late 2014 and was completed in fall 2016, examined the viability and potential benefits associated with applying certain technologies and operational changes on the expressway.

Anyone think any of this will work? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: PennDOT