OAKLAND, CA ...Beginning this week, overhead freeway signs on Interstate 80 in Berkeley will show drivers the amount of time it will take them to reach downtown San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport, Hercules or Fairfield. It's part of a pilot program devised by Caltrans, MTC and the California Center for Innovative Transportation to create smart corridors where motorists can gauge the amount of time they will spend behind the wheel.
Motorists have been able to access driving times on selected freeways for the last year via the 511 traveler information phone line and the companion Web site (located at 511.org). The changeable message sign pilot program launched this week gives motorists another convenient avenue for accessing the real-time traffic data. Two overhead signs will be activated in the test phase: Eastbound Interstate 80 at University Avenue, and westbound Interstate 80 at Ashby Avenue.
The system reads FasTrak® transponders within passing vehicles. When traffic passes between two distinct points, for instance the Ashby exit in Berkeley and the 5th Street exit in San Francisco, the average travel time between the exits can be calculated and posted on the overhead signs for the benefit of other drivers.
The westbound sign at Ashby Avenue will provide motorists with real-time travel times to downtown San Francisco at 5th Street or SFO. The eastbound sign will provide travel times to Hercules or Fairfield.
Travel time information will be displayed every day of the week between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.; however travel times can be superseded by messages about incident information or Amber Alerts.