New electronic signs to improve message delivery to motorists

ITD is upgrading highway signs throughout southwest Idaho to help improve public safety and drivers’ access to information. The project is expected to be completed by early March. The signs alert drivers to road conditions or safety issues affecting their travel.

ITD began replacing the Dynamic Message Signs in a half-dozen locations last fall. The work involved removing existing signs and replacing them with upgraded versions.

The old signs were operated through a hand-held device located in each cabinet containing all the wiring and controls needed for operation. Each of the six replacements have communications and software in the control system to enable remote activation.

A 30-day test is under way on each sign to verify readiness, following a successful 72-hour test earlier this month.

"The main function of the new signs will be to alert drivers to immediate traffic impacts before they arrive, such as 'Avalanche Alley' conditions farther north on Idaho 21," said Robert Koeberlein, an engineer in ITD’s Mobility Services section. "We can relay important information to those who routinely make those critical decisions each day -- the drivers."

The signs are located on Idaho 21 at the junctions to Warm Springs, Idaho City, Lowman and Stanley. They also are on the Banks-to-Lowman Highway (old Highway 17) at Banks, and on Idaho 55 near the Shadow Valley Golf Course north of Boise.

The department owns 55 permanent Dynamic Message Signs across the state; 22 are in southwest Idaho. The signs do not feed back any information to ITD – they are used only to post information for drivers.

Quality Electric Inc., of Boise, is the contractor on this $321,000 project.

“Messages should normally be sent to the signs from the State Communications Center remotely,” explained ITD's Gary Sanderson, also a mobility services engineer. “If that is not functioning properly, personnel can go to sign and input messages using a device at the sign locations. New control software will also allow us to monitor the sign messages and status from the nearest ITD regional office."

The sign replacement project supports ITD's primary mission and Strategic Plan to use innovative approaches to provide a safe transportation system, improve mobility and enhance economic opportunity.

Published 2-8-2013