Beleaguered motorists stuck on Interstate 80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge, one of the busiest commutes in the Bay Area, are all too familiar with gridlock and slow-and-go traffic. But smart solutions are on the way via the I-80 SMART Corridor Project (SMART is an acronym for Safety, Mobility, Automated Real-time Traffic Management). The project will feature one of the most extensive Intelligent Transportation Systems in California, integrating communication technologies into the transportation infrastructure to improve safety and mobility.
Installed overhead signs, to be activated in the spring, are part of the 20-mile-long network designed to enhance motorist safety, improve travel-time reliability and reduce accidents and associated traffic congestion. They will feature blocked-lane information, electronic messages and advisory speeds to provide motorists with real-time information about traffic conditions ahead, enabling drivers to slow down and/or change lanes well ahead of an incident.
“The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) supports the SMART Corridor Project and we’re optimistic that adaptive ramp metering and other new technologies will help to smooth traffic flow and speed travel times along that stretch of Interstate 80,” said Andrew Fremier, MTC deputy executive director of operations.
The San Pablo Avenue corridor and some local roads are also part of this project, integrating the interstate and local road operations into a single system. The project supports transit through signal priority along San Pablo Avenue and ramp-meter-bypass lanes on ramps to Interstate 80. In turn, “trailblazer” signs at major intersections will advise motorists when to join Interstate 80 once traffic has resumed normal speeds.
Installing the overhead sign frames that will feature electronic messages entailed some nighttime lane closures last fall, and more closures are anticipated in coming weeks. Sign-frame installation is expected to be completed in early February, depending on weather. In all, 11 approximately 25-foot-high overhead sign frames, or gantries, will span the width of the westbound Interstate 80 lanes in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. In addition, adaptive ramp metering based on prevailing conditions, part of a coordinated control system to reduce merging conflicts, will improve traffic flow onto Interstate 80 by adjusting green times.
Total project budget is $79 million. The project was developed through a partnership between Caltrans, the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the West Contra Costa County Transportation Committee in collaboration with transit agencies and nine municipalities along the corridor.
For additional information, visit the project website at http://80smartcorridor.org/.
Utilizing funds to operate and maintain the existing transportation network is one of the preferred scenarios of Plan Bay Area, the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy for the San Francisco Bay Area, adopted in 2013 with long-range planning to 2040. The Interstate 80 SMART Corridor Project maximizes the efficiency of the existing roadways in a cost-effective manner with fewer environmental impacts and without requiring the construction of new lanes or widening of existing lanes.