Improving Traveler Information: CDOT Upgrading Variable Message Signs

October 9, 2014 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - SOUTHWEST COLORADO — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) continues to improve communications with travelers throughout the state by upgrading Intelligent Transportation Systems on several area highways.

New variable message signs (VMS), which are the electronic message boards motorists see while driving, are being installed to utilize fiber optic cables that are now available for use in certain areas of the state.

Since 2006, CDOT has been upgrading its signs (in existing locations) so they have the ability to utilize wireless and fiber optic networks, and has also been replacing signs that are not compatible with current technologies or have reached the end of their usable lives. Fiber optic sign upgrades will provide faster communication messages with motorists from CDOT information stations, costs less to install and maintain than other forms of technology, and overall are more cost effective than other forms of communications.

This phase of sign replacement was contracted to W L Contractors of Denver and has an estimated total cost of $3.6* million. All upgrades are expected to be complete by late December.

Where location permits, signs are replaced as overhead structures; others are ground-mounted (see below). The overhead signs can display 12 characters across, with 3 lines down and on three separate panels. Ground-mounted signs vary from 10 to 15 characters across.

All the VMSs and structures will be painted brown to blend in with natural surroundings. To date, all sign foundations have been constructed and now crews are installing the structures themselves (at every location); next will be wiring and then final testing.

Replacements of existing signs and fiber optic improvements are being made at the following locations:

Southbound US 550 Ouray, Ground               Mile Marker  94.59

Northbound US 550 Silverton, Ground               Mile Marker  70.49

Southbound US 550 Silverton, Ground               Mile Marker  70.25

Westbound US 160 Cortez, Overhead                   Mile Marker  34.93

Eastbound US 160 Cortez, Overhead                  Mile Marker  40.82

Westbound US 160 West Durango, Overhead           Mile Marker  80.79

Eastbound US 160 Pagosa Springs, Overhead        Mile Marker  144.08

Eastbound US 160 Wolf Creek Snowshed, Overhead    Mile Marker  168.20

Westbound US 160 Del Norte, Overhead               Mile Marker  201.19

Westbound US 160 Monte Vista, Overhead           Mile Marker  214.71

Westbound US 160 Alamosa, Overhead                 Mile Marker  229.92

Eastbound US 160 Alamosa, Overhead                Mile Marker  235.21

Eastbound US 160 Fort Garland, Ground          Mile Marker  258.28

TRAVEL IMPACTS:  Through the project’s completion, motorists may encounter some lane closures in the various areas, as the work progresses from installation through testing. Depending upon the location, some overhead sign installation work will require a temporary full closure, typically done overnight.

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