ODOT Using Smart Signs To Help Tulsa Traffic

Friday, August 7th 2009, 4:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Everywhere you look there is road construction underway in and around Tulsa.  The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is using a computerized system to try to get you where you need to go.  The smart signs could save you time and a lot of hassle on the highway.

With so much road construction underway, Tulsa's Inner Dispersal Loop around downtown and now Dysfunction Junction where I-44 meets 193rd East Avenue, it can be a challenge getting where you need to go.  ODOT is trying to help.

"Right now we have a large number of work zones here in the Tulsa area, so we're trying to give drivers as much heads up as we can about work zones that are going to be in their path around town," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

ODOT has set up what they call smart work zones.  Dozens of electronic signs are set up all over the area.  Special sensors measure speed which tell engineers about any delays.

"Instead of traffic moving at 65 miles an hour, maybe it's down to 45 miles an hour, so that alerts us that there is something in the work zone that is causing a delay," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

Data is relayed to a computer system and then the information is sent to the signs.  They're strategically placed to give drivers plenty of notice.

"We do have boards set back far enough so that there is a chance that if drivers are coming through, and they see that there is a delay ahead they can take an alternate highway to get where they need to go," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

The signs have been used before in Oklahoma City and other parts of the state, but this is the first time they've been needed on such a wide scale in the Tulsa area.

"That can certainly save you some minutes on your drive, and certainly save you a lot of frustration as you are going through Tulsa," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

By next week, 30 of the smart signs will be set up for the I-44 widening project.  Nearly 40 are in place for the IDL project.