Smart Signs Implemented to Improve Safety on U.S. 36

August 1, 2016 - Denver Metro Colorado/CDOT Region 1, Northeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 4 - ADAMS/BROOMFIELD/BOULDER COUNTIES—The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is putting its U.S. 36 Smart Signs system into full-time service, helping drivers to anticipate and prepare for congestion and lane closures caused by accidents, disabled vehicles and other obstacles.

Located between Federal Boulevard in Westminster and Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, the overhead signs were tested for several days two weeks ago to ensure all the equipment was functioning properly and displaying correct and real-time traffic information.

                      Advisory speed limits to slow                               Closed lane due to accident advises 

                   drivers as they approach congestion                               drivers to merge to open lane                                                                         

“Since the test period was successful, we decided to activate the system now instead of a few months down the road,” said CDOT Transportation Systems Management and Operations Director Ryan Rice.  “It’s designed to improve safety on a busy corridor so the sooner we could have the system operating 24/7, the better it is for the traveling public, allowing drivers to be better prepared for any upcoming traffic problems.”

In other states where similar traffic management systems have been employed, crashes 
have been reduced by an average of 30 percent and the road capacity has increased approximately 22 percent. 

The Smart Signs system uses input from cameras and vehicle detectors to collect and process information about current traffic conditions, 24 hours a day. Information is then posted on the overhead digital signs, displaying whether a lane is open or closed, or provide advisory speed limits to avoid the need for sudden braking that can lead to secondary accidents.

Advisory speed limits will be used to incrementally slow drivers as they approach congestion. The lowest advisory speed will be 35 mph, even if traffic is moving slower. Just like a static speed limit sign, adverse traffic conditions may require slower speeds than the posted limit.

If a lane is closed, the status signs will direct drivers to merge into an open lane in advance of the closure.

To view videos of similar systems in other states, please see:

U.S. 36 is one of two corridors in Colorado to have this system. The Smart Signs system also will be implemented on southbound Interstate 25 from 120th Avenue to U.S. 36, as a component of the North I-25 Express Lanes.