I-95 drivers will see new on-ramp traffic signals in Palm Beach County. Here’s what to expect.

More South Florida drivers are encountering a new sight as they get onto Interstate 95: traffic signals.

Now in use are new on-ramp signals at the I-95 entrance from Glades Road in Boca Raton, which began operating on May 28, as well as signals at Yamato Road and Spanish River Boulevard, which were activated June 24.

They’re among the traffic signals being rolled out by the Florida Department of Transportation. Active ramp signals also are coming to the I-95 entrance at Congress Avenue later this month, said Ryan Drendel, FDOT’s freeway operations engineer.

The signals previously were added to I-95 on-ramps in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The goal is to bring them to all on-ramps along I-95 in South Florida. Some traffic signals still need to be constructed though, Drendel said.

Last July, eight signals were installed at three ramps’ multiple entrances at Cypress Creek Road in Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach and Palmetto Park Road. Improvements are underway before the signals can be turned on. Lights at the ramp from Copans Road in Pompano Beach were activated earlier this year.

How the lights work

As drivers are approaching an on-ramp, they can expect the traffic light to be active if the sign at the foot of the ramp is flashing. If it is, once drivers approach the top of the ramp, they are to stop in front of the red traffic light, which turns green shortly after sensing a car. Then, the driver can enter the highway.

“The objective of the ramp signaling is to break up groups of cars that typically come onto a ramp when they get released from a signal on whatever arterial road,” Drendel said. “A large group of cars typically gets released onto the ramp, and so the idea of ramp signaling is to break up that group and help the merge condition operate more smoothly.”

Traffic entering the northbound lanes of I-95 at Glades Rd., stop at the metering lights at the onramp, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Traffic entering the northbound lanes of I-95 at Glades Road, stop at the metering lights at the on-ramp, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

For the first 60 days after these traffic lights are initially activated, they operate every weekday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Glades Road, Yamato Road and Spanish River Boulevard lights are all still in this phase.

After that, the signals go into “traffic responsive mode,” which is when they only turn on if congestion is detected. This will happen if the average speed on I-95 falls below 45 mph.

When active, the lights only allow one car onto the interstate at a time, alternating between the right and left lanes, if there are two. So far, Drendel said 60% to 80% of drivers are following the new signals, but FDOT expects that compliance to get higher as people get used to it.

These are the only highway lights of their kind in Florida, but other states also use this practice, Drendel said.

The main priority is maintaining traffic flow, but the signals also create a safer environment for commuters especially when entering a clogged highway — drivers are forced to stop rather than barreling through to get onto the interstate.

Drendel said most on-ramps with signals in Palm Beach and Broward counties already constructed should be turned on this year.

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