ADOT will begin building a wrong-way driver detection system on parts of I-17 in Phoenix in early August and expects testing to begin early next year, the agency announced today.
The schedule is slightly faster than what was announced in June, when the agency said construction would begin this fall and take seven months.
Today, the State Transportation Board conditionally approved a $1.89 million bid from Contractors West Inc. of Mesa to install the system. A total of $3.7 million has been earmarked for the project. The setup will be installed along I-17 from the Loop 101 down to the I-10. Performance of this pilot phase, as it’s being called, will determine any possible future expansion to other locations.
How it Works
The system will use thermal cameras to detect a wrong-way vehicle along an off-ramp.
Wrong-way vehicles will trigger alerts, including illuminated signs with flashing lights, designed to get errant drivers to stop. Overhead message boards on a 15-mile stretch of the interstate will warn other drivers. The system will also automatically focus ADOT cameras on the wrong-way vehicle and send automated alerts to the Highway Patrol, helping troopers intercept vehicles. Thermal cameras placed at 1-mile intervals will further alert law enforcement of a wrong-way vehicle’s movement.
“This system can reduce the risk, but it can’t prevent wrong-way driving,” ADOT admits. But it’s the best alternative the agency has come up with after studying the issue for years. (ADOT determined that spikes in the roadway won’t work, and can be dangerous by themselves.)
Wrong-way drivers killed 28 people last year out of a total of 950 Arizona traffic deaths.