Washington, Oregon DOTs team up on electronic signs to display travel times between the two states

Photo Credit: Washington Department of Transportation.Photo Credit: Washington Department of Transportation.

New traffic signs have gone up in Oregon and Washington to alert drivers to travel times to popular locations between the two states.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said in a press release the joint effort between WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation placed three signs in Oregon and four in Washington earlier this month.

Photo from the Washington Department of Transportation.Photo from the Washington Department of Transportation.

“The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but if that straight line is backed up and congested, a different route might save you time,” WSDOT Assistant Traffic Engineer Stan Markuson said. “Diverting could put more miles on your car, but could also shave minutes off your trip.”

The electronic signs pull in the travel information by using hundreds of sensors embedded along roads and highways. The software was upgraded from similar signs already in operation in Seattle so the two states can share information.

Two of the signs in Oregon have gone up in northbound lanes of Interstate 5 and another on Interstate 205. Washington also has two signs on I-5, but in the southbound lanes, as well as one on southbound I-205 and one on westbound Washington State Road 14.

The two departments said the new signs would help drivers make traffic decisions that, in the end, ease congestion across the board.

“Changing routes in response to real-time conditions can improve congestion throughout the Portland/Vancouver metro highway system,” ODOT traffic engineer Dennis Mitchell said. “Drivers can use the information to make decisions about whether to stop for gas, grab a bite to eat or continue on their way.”