I-95 drivers, get ready to stop: The on-ramps are getting new traffic signals

Soon, you’ll need a bit more patience to drive onto Interstate 95, with many new traffic lights being added to briefly halt your usual commute onto the highway.

All the I-95 on-ramps will one day have these new traffic lights, or what the state calls “ramp signals.” They’ll make you wait for a brief moment for the green light, indicating when it’s OK to jump onto the highway.

So far, eight signals have been installed at three ramps’ multiple entrances at Cypress Creek Road in Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach and Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton. The accompanying signs give drivers instructions such as, “Stop here on red,” “one vehicle per green” and “ramp metered when flashing.”

These types of traffic lights already are in place in Miami-Dade County. And adding all the others across the region will take years.

The safety-minded plan aims to ensure cars don’t scurry on too close together and create an “accordion effect,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Guillermo Canedo. He called it all “scientifically cool” technology.

The traffic lights will separate “a platoon” of cars trying to enter the highway, and prevent the cars already flying down I-95 from having to merge and change lanes. It’s projected to improve traffic flow and be safer.

Each traffic-light setup, whose cost wasn’t available, features sensors that detect when cars are coming, as well as cameras with fiber optics, and signs. Canedo said the lights also can be turned red manually, such as during an emergency response, a hurricane evacuation or even a presidential convoy.

This is an image of a ramp light.
Eventually, ramp signals will be running at all I-95 entrances in South Florida. Shown here is the entrance at Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach.

The same safety approach exists in other states such as in Minnesota, where the devices are called “ramp meters.” CBS news reported that in 2000, the Minnesota Department of Transportation turned off all of its 430 ramp meters for six weeks to study traffic flow and safety impacts.

The results of the study found there was a 22% increase in travel times, a 7% decrease in freeway speeds, and a 26% increase in crashes, the network reported.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at lhuriash@sunsentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @LisaHuriash

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