Construction Technology Alerts Tulsa Drivers

Thursday, March 19th 2009, 5:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is using Smart technology to alert drivers to construction on Interstate 244.  

Construction started on three bridges on I-244 two weeks ago. ODOT is using new message boards to help drivers get through the construction.

More than 76,000 vehicles travel the highway each day. Those commuters have taken their toll on I-244's bridges.

A nearly $4 million project will replace the decks on all three bridges. To make navigating through frustrating construction a little easier, ODOT has introduced a new traffic update system, Smart Workzones.

"We've actually used it on I-240 in OKC, I think in about 1997, and since then we've used it in several urban and rural projects, but this is the first time we've used it in Tulsa," ODOT project manager Nathan Bullard said.

The Smart Workzones give current workzone conditions alerting motorists with real-time updates.

Eight traffic sensors are set up on U.S. 169, westbound Interstate 44 and westbound I-244 to monitor current traffic speeds. Message boards give drivers heading into a workzone information on current traffic speeds. They will also alert you to delays or stops called congestion mode.

"When it goes into congestion mode, it will actually display 'be prepared to stop,' 'use extreme caution,' 'work zone ahead,' '2 minutes to end of workzone,' 'average speed 48,' 'average speed 43 mph,'" Bullard said. "Whatever the average speed is, it'll be flashing that letting ... traffic know."

The Smart Workzones are monitored throughout the day for traffic updates.

"We actually have a system where me and I think 3 other users are available at all times to monitor them on a laptop," Bullard said.

The Smart Workzones may be new, but ODOT has found them to be a reliable piece of technology, one that 76,000 motorists can count on.

"It is effective, and for the most part, it is accurate," Bullard said.

The bridge repair project is expected to take seven months.

Smart Workzones locations:

I-244 eastbound, start of westbound taper

I-244 westbound, end of westbound taper

U.S. 169 southbound, 1000 feet north of Pine Street

I-244 westbound, 1000 feet east of Garnett Road

U.S. 169 southbound, 1000 feet north of I-244 ramp

U.S. 169 northbound, 1000 feet south of 11th Street

U.S. 169 northbound, 1000 feet south of ramp to I-244

I-244 eastbound, 1000 west of Mingo Road