New technology will make I-66 commutes more predictable

WASHINGTON — Transportation experts call it the silver bullet, the
game-changer, the home run: something that will solve traffic on Interstate 66
in Prince William and
Fairfax counties. And it should be running early next year.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will begin a project this weekend to
install an “Active Traffic Management” system between the Capital
Route 29 in Centreville. Over the next four
months, VDOT will install 36 overhead gantries that will serve as the basis of

ATM is a relatively new concept in managing traffic in the United States,
although it’s popular in Europe. The theory is that with sensors, traffic
cameras and overhead signs, VDOT can give drivers more information miles away
about upcoming traffic, crashes or other bottlenecks. It’ll offer drivers
more information to decide whether to bail from I-66 or how to prepare for the
slower traffic.

Some of the symbols will be familiar to I-66 commuters: If there is
a crash ahead, VDOT can change the signs in real time miles away. If lanes are
shut down, VDOT can change green arrows to a red X or an arrow to advise
merging to another lane. VDOT hopes that getting people out of closed lanes
before they reach incidents will make the slowdowns less abrupt and less

If there is standard traffic, VDOT could change the signs to give drivers a
warning about exactly how far away the congestion begins.

How an ATM system on I-66 will look by wtopweb

VDOT could also change the speed limit from 55 to, say, 45
when there is traffic.

Everything is controlled with computers at VDOT headquarters in Fairfax, can
be changed with the click of a mouse, and is monitored 24-7 in real time.

“These strategies are intended to optimize mobility along the I-66 corridor by
more effectively managing the congested conditions. While our traffic woes
suddenly go away, the hope is that the length of time that travelers need to
complete a trip will become more reliable or predictable,” VDOT writes on its website.

Eventually, VDOT expects to deploy the ATM system on the entire 34-mile
stretch from the D.C. border to US-15 in Haymarket.

Weather permitting, construction will begin in the overnights on eastbound I-
at mile marker 53 in Centreville. Crews could shut down all lanes for up to 30
minutes. Crews will focus first on the stretch between Route 29 in Centreville
and Route 50 in Fairfax in
both directions.

The ATM system could be operational in the late winter or early spring of
VDOT has posted a
to show
drivers what to expect when the ATM system is fully installed.

Watch the video below:

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