Texas DOT installing smart work zone system on I-35 near Austin

Updated Oct 3, 2016
The on-ramp to Interstate 35 from William Cannon Drive near Austin. Photo: Capture from Google MapsThe on-ramp to Interstate 35 from William Cannon Drive near Austin. Photo: Capture from Google Maps

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is installing a smart work zone system on a section of Interstate 35 near Austin included in the Mobility35 project. The system, set to start today, will provide real-time details to motorists of highway construction impacts on travel.

TxDOT says the system includes side-scanning microwave radar used to measure vehicle movement and transmit this information to a central processor. The equipment converts this data into speed, travel times, delays or road conditions through the work zone displayed on message boards.

Portable devices are installed at eight locations between Stassney Lane and William Cannon Drive, with each including a high definition closed-circuit camera on a 30-foot pole that will transmit images for monitoring at the Combined Transportation Emergency Communications Center.

“This tool provides drivers with real-time information on traffic conditions in and around the work zone,” says Terry McCoy, TxDOT Austin District Engineer. “Drivers can now make informed travel decisions on whether they want to proceed through the work zone, exit onto the frontage road, or choose to take an alternate route around the work zone. This helps alleviate work zone-related congestion and improves safety for motorists and workers.”

The project team will use the data collected to help identify and address problem areas found at various points in the work zone.

“With I-35 in central Texas being one of the most congested highways in Texas, we have to keep looking for ways to manage traffic throughout this corridor,” McCoy said. “Knowing there is no one single strategy to reduce traffic by itself, we’re taking an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach to improve mobility and communication on I-35.”