The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration on Wednesday activated a ramp metering system on 23 ramps of southbound Interstate 270 in an effort to reduce congestion and increase safety on one of the nation’s busiest travel corridors.
Ramp metering employs traffic signals and sensors to manage traffic flow entering the highway. The highway administration claims the system will “balance highway demand and capacity, maintain optimal highway operation and reduce congestion.”
While they have been used elsewhere in the U.S., the system is the first of its kind for Maryland.
WTOP’s John Domen drove through the area Wednesday morning and said the lights at the bottom of the ramps flash red and green to guide cars. When the green light shows up, he says it stays up just long enough for one car to get through with the goal being to allow for quick but orderly entry to 270.
Domen says that the lights only take effect when the sensors detect a lot of cars already on the road.
The metering signals will operate between 4 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily and will be most active during peak traffic hours, when I-270 experiences the most congestion.
Since August, signals at the end of these 23 ramps have been flashing yellow to tell motorists active metering will be coming soon.
— John Domen (@JDDsays) September 15, 2021
On Wednesday, motorists will see a flashing beacon, warning they should reduce speed, watch for other queued vehicles and be prepared to stop before the highway entrance.
Between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., metering will not be in effect; the beacons will be dark and traffic signals will flash yellow. This will tell motorists they may proceed onto the highway without stopping.
The ramp metering is one component of Gov. Larry Hogan’s larger I-270 ICM Project, which aims to relieve congestion and reduce travel times along the I-270 corridor.