The Michigan Department of Transportation starts the groundwork this week to upgrade its roadside technology.
The Intelligent Transportation System combines the use of traffic cameras, speed sensors, and dynamic message boards to help get traffic moving. The system has already been implemented in Detroit and Grand Rapids. Now MDOT is starting to install the system right here in Mid-Michigan.
"So the concept is to apply the technology to manage traffic during those peak congestion times," said Matt Smith, program manager for MDOT's Intelligent Transportation System.
And to manage traffic in a smarter, more efficient way. The speed sensors can't zero in on individual cars, but they help MDOT gauge overall traffic speed and volume.
"If this segment of traffic is flowing at 70 miles per hour - life is good," said Smith. "Then if all of sudden, our information says hey this traffic is flowing at 30 miles per hour - well that's an indication that something is going wrong."
Then employees at MDOT's traffic center can find out what's going on through the traffic cameras, and communicate with drivers through the dynamic message boards.
"If there's traffic delays or road closures or lane closures, we can post messages whenever that happens," Smith said. "The center is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,"
Smith says the main goal is to manage traffic, but MDOT also plans to share traffic information with emergency dispatchers to help first responders get to an accident quickly.
The traffic cameras, detectors, and message boards will be installed in nine different locations in the Lansing area. The system will cover I-96 from Williamston Road to US-127, and on US-127 from south of I-96 to south of I-69.
Crews will be in the field this week getting soil samples and doing preliminary work. Then they'll work to install the cameras and sensors through the summer months and into early fall. After getting all the components up by early winter, MDOT hopes to start testing things in the spring.
The entire system will be up and running around this time next year.