RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will soon begin to build a system of electronic signs, cameras and other technology that will improve safety on Interstate 77 in the Fancy Gap area of Carroll County.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded a $7.5 million contract to G4S Technology, Inc. from Springfield, to design and build an Active Traffic and Safety Management System (ATSMS) for a 12-mile segment of I-77, a mountainous section in Fancy Gap.
Dense fog was blamed in a 95-vehicle pileup that killed three and injured 25 more on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 on that stretch of I-77 in Carroll County. A similar incident caused by heavy fog occurred on November 16, 2010 at the 7 mile marker of I-77 southbound in Fancy Gap that involved 75 vehicles and left two dead.
“VDOT is using technology to save lives on a section of I-77 that has a higher than average traffic crash rate related to fog or wind,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This project will help drivers reach their destination safely by keeping them informed of road and weather conditions. The use of technology in transportation today is improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation network.”
The I-77 Fancy Gap ATSMS includes numerous improvements:
• Infrastructure to support the establishment of variable speed limits based on weather and traffic conditions
• A network of electronic message boards to keep drivers informed of changing traffic and weather conditions
• Additional traffic cameras that will allow complete surveillance of the corridor by VDOT’s traffic operations center, which provides real-time information to drivers through the 511 Virginia system
• Additional detection stations to enhance weather monitoring capabilities
Work on the project is expected to begin this spring with construction completed in summer 2015. VDOT has contracted with American Electric Power to complete the electrical infrastructure needed for these improvements.
Keeping drivers informed of road and weather conditions is a key component of the ATSMS project. Dynamic Message Signs will communicate information received by the operations center from the visibility detection sensors, traffic cameras and traffic detection sensors. All of these systems aggregate atmospheric and roadway surface condition information as well as traffic speed and volumes. VDOT will be responsible for operating and maintaining the system.
Throughout Virginia, VDOT is improving corridor operations with similar ATSMS projects. Other projects are in northern Virginia on I-66 and on I-64 along Afton Mountain.