Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Advisory speed signs may allow drivers to hit more green lights

For drivers cruising along 66th Street, Park Boulevard and Bryan Dairy Road, slow and steady might win the race to beat red lights soon.

Pinellas County is considering variable speed limit signs that can gauge traffic and post an optimal speed so drivers might be able to hit more lights on green, county traffic engineering section manager Ken Jacobs said.

For example, if the posted speed limit is 45 mph, the Advanced Traffic Management System may suggest traveling at 35 mph to avoid stops at traffic lights. Those who do not drive at the suggested speed will not be penalized with a traffic ticket.

"(The signs) will be similar to some that will shoot your speed as you drive through a school zone," Jacobs explained. "It doesn't measure your speed, but it's the same type of sign."

The system is the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay area, said Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Carson, and may be the first in the state.

The system's technology is similar to the electronic message and travel time billboards above Interstate 275. Loop sensors underground calculate the average speed of the drivers when they pass certain points on the road.

Each sign setup costs taxpayers about $3,000, and the project, called Smart Tracs, is funded by a 1-cent gas tax that was approved in 2007 and grant money from the Department of Transportation. Each road has its own budget of about $4 million for all signal work and fiber communications, including three signs in each direction.

Although no official plans have been made, potential test projects include 66th Street, Park Boulevard and Bryan Dairy Road.

The technology is in the design process, and construction is set to begin next year as part of the first phase of the project.

Travel time signs, which will include the calculation of the delay at traffic signals, will be installed first, followed by the advisory speed limit posts.

Other roads under consideration for later phases of the project are State Road 580, Belcher Road and East and West Bay Drive. Plans for U.S. 19 are also in the works. Eleven advisory speed posts will join the five overhead message boards already installed along McMullen Booth Road. All roadways in the Smart Tracs project, 25 in total, are expected to be complete in 2018.

Before expanding to other roads, the department will conduct studies to measure the benefits.

"We're just not sure if there will be a lot of driver adherence when they see the signs," Jacobs said.

Timing is everything, said Pei-Sung Lin, program director of ITS, Traffic Operations and Safety at the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research.

He said drivers' compliance relies on how accurate the advisory speed is. The system could be trial-and-error for drivers; if the timing of the system is correct, drivers will trust the suggestion.

"If the speed on the sign is accurate, more people will follow that," he said.

Pinellas Park resident Linda Ruble doesn't think there's a great need for the signs on her daily commute to work down 66th Street, but she said it might be a blessing on U.S. 19.

"There's a bazillion lights there, and they are really difficult to time," said Ruble, 62.

She said she'd follow the signs' advisory speeds.

"At the end of the day, you're not really gaining any time by speeding along and waiting at a light anyway. It's more fuel-efficient."

Colleen Wright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8313. You can follow her on Twitter @Colleen_Wright.

Advisory speed signs may allow drivers to hit more green lights 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Oh, my God, this is crazy!' The 911 calls as Hollywood nursing home residents died (w/video)

    Hurricanes

    One by one, the calls for help poured in from nurses at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

    The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where 14 residents died during an air conditioning failure in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Hollywood, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017. The police released 911 calls from a nursing home under investigation after some of its residents died in the post-hurricane heat. [Scott McIntyre | The New York Times]
  2. Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. We talked to him ahead of time. Check out what he had to say. [Patrick Eccelsine/FOX]
  3. Conor Oberst, Johnnyswim concerts moved out of State Theatre over construction issues

    Blogs

    Two more concerts -- including one this weekend -- have been moved out of the State Theatre in St. Petersburg as the venue continues to experience scaled-down crowd capacity following recent construction.

    Johnnyswim
  4. Hillsborough board to vote on new school start times

    K12

    TAMPA — The big issue at today's Hillsborough County School Board meeting will be the 2018-19 bell schedule. To save money and get students to school on time, …

    Hillsborough County School Board members tried to work out their differences at a training day in Temple Terrace on Oct. 11. Today, they will vote on revised school start times for 2018-19. [COLLEEN WRIGHT | Times]
  5. McCain condemns 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in clear shot at Trump (w/video)

    National

    PHILADELPHIA — An emotional Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., launched a thinly veiled critique of President Donald Trump's global stewardship Monday night, using a notable award ceremony to condemn "people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems."

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, accompanied by Chair of the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees, former Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he takes the stage before receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. [Associated Press]