The New Jersey Department of Transportation this month introduced travel-time messages displayed on dynamic message signs (DMS) along interstate highways. The initiative capitalizes on state investments in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology, the state’s DOT said.
“This initiative alerts motorists to traffic conditions miles down the road, equipping them with information they can use to make decisions about possibly altering the route to their destination,” New Jersey DOT Commissioner James Simpson said. “At the very least, trip-time information confirms that traffic is flowing well or warns motorists about congestion ahead and helps them approach in a safe manner.”
The Department has completed the testing phase on 15 DMS units on I-287 and I-195. The signs display major waypoints, such as intersecting highways or significant roadway features, and indicate how many minutes it will take to reach that waypoint.
By Memorial Day, the Department expects to provide similar information to motorists on I-78, I-80, I-280, I-295 and on a segment of I-95 in Mercer County. About 50 DMS units will provide trip-time information. The plan is to initially provide trip times only during the morning and afternoon peak periods.
Trip-time information is continuously re-calculated for accuracy based on information gathered automatically by vehicle progress data gathered by roadside devices or by GPS devices that owners choose to be probed.
The travel times displayed on DMS units reflect the experience of motorists who have recently completed travel along a specific highway segment. Traffic conditions and travel times can change quickly, however – a fact that motorists need to keep in mind.
These permanently installed signs will also alert motorists of highway incidents and provide information such as temporary road or lane closures. The New Jersey DOT said it will maintain the flexibility to post such information at any time.
The Department is increasingly turning to technology to help maximize the operational capacity of New Jersey’s heavily traveled roadways. Travel-time information is an example of that focus, Simpson said, because when motorists know about current traffic conditions and avoid pockets of congestion, everyone on the road benefits.
The travel-time messages supplement traffic information available on a variety of platforms, including www.511nj.org, broadcast traffic reports and personalized text alerts available for free at 511nj.org.