No variable specified
GDOT to increase speed limit on I-285
by Staff Reports
September 08, 2013 05:37 PM | 4307 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced it will increase the speed limit on Interstate 285 from 55 mph to 65 mph.

In a letter Friday to stakeholders, GDOT Chief Engineer Russell McMurry said the new speed limit will go into effect Nov. 1 on the southern end of 285 (south of Interstate 20). The northern end’s speed limit will go up in October 2014.

“This  decision to raise the speed limit is the result of careful review and analysis of actual speeds, traffic volumes and crash data on I-285,” McMurry said. “Sixty-five mph is the maximum speed allowable by Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-181) for interstate highways in urban areas such as metropolitan Atlanta. The new 65 mph speed limit will be more consistent with current driver expectations and behavior, and on those 27 miles of I-285 south of the I-20 interchanges, the new 65 mph speed limit will be posted as a constant speed limit.”

He also said in the letter the northern end of 285 will be raised to 65 mph through a “new variable speed limit roadway detection system and signage.”

“The 36 miles of Top End I-285 carry an average of 50,000 more vehicles a day than the southern section, and in some sections, 100,000 more, and have many more or closely spaced interchanges as the southern section,” McMurry said. “Higher traffic volumes and more interchanges mean more weaving and more merging, which result in congested areas during the rush hour peak times.

“Georgia DOT’s Traffic Management Center operators monitor metro Atlanta roadways round-the-clock for crashes, vehicle breakdowns and heavy congestion. The VSL system will allow our Traffic Management Center operators make instant, real-time adjustments to roadways signage to reduce the speed limit in and leading up to the affected area. They will also simultaneously activate the I-285 overhead changeable message signs to alert motorists of the upcoming reduced speed limit. Speeds will be reduced in 10-mph increments and will never be lowered below 35 mph.”

Here is McMurry's full letter:

Dear Stakeholder,

As part of our ongoing effort to increase safety and reduce congestion on Georgia’s roadways, Georgia DOT and transportation safety partners in the metro Atlanta region will initiate the following actions:

1.   The speed limit on the southern side of Interstate 285 (that portion of I-285 south of its interchanges with Interstate Highway 20) will be increased from 55 miles-per-hour (MPH) to 65 MPH effective November 1, 2013. This  decision to raise the speed limit is the result of careful review and analysis of actual speeds, traffic volumes and crash data on I-285. Sixty five MPH is the maximum speed allowable by Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-181) for interstate highways in urban areas such as metropolitan Atlanta. The new 65 MPH speed limit will be more consistent with current driver expectations and behavior, and on those 27 miles of I-285 south of the I-20 interchanges, the new 65mph speed limit will be posted as a constant speed limit.

2.   On I-285 north of the I-20 interchanges, the speed limit will remain at 55 mph until October 2014, when it also will be increased to 65 MPH through a new Variable Speed Limit (VSL) roadway detection system and signage. The 36 miles of “Top End” I-285 carry an average of 50,000 more vehicles a day than the southern section, and in some sections, 100,000 more, – and have many more or closely spaced interchanges as the southern section. Higher traffic volumes and more interchanges mean more weaving and more merging, which result in congested areas during the rush hour peak times.

Georgia DOT’s Traffic Management Center operators monitor metro Atlanta roadways round-the-clock for crashes, vehicle breakdowns and heavy congestion. The VSL system will allow our Traffic Management Center operators make instant, real-time adjustments to roadways signage to reduce the speed limit in and leading up to the affected area. They will also simultaneously activate the I-285 overhead changeable message signs to alert motorists of the upcoming reduced speed limit. Speeds will be reduced in 10-mph increments and will never be lowered below 35 mph.

VSL systems have successfully been implemented in other cities. In addition to the safety benefit, a secondary benefit that has been shown is that the VSL may shorten trip times. Studies have shown that traveling at a slower, consistent speed – as opposed to constantly accelerating and braking like much of today’s driving on the Top End – will not only save motorists gas, but also will lead to arriving at their destination sooner.

VSL has proven to be effective in Orlando, Seattle and St Louis. We believe it will succeed on I-285 as well.

Georgia DOT is prepared to help commuters, transit system operators and others understand the changes coming to I-285. As we prepare for VSL implementation, an educational public outreach campaign will be in place. As part of our outreach, we wanted to notify you before the general public so that you, your colleagues and staff are aware. We appreciate your support of this initiative and want to address any comments or questions you may have. If you would like to meet with us to further discuss this issue, please contact our Project Manager Andrew Hoenig at ahoenig@dot.ga.gov or 404-631-1757.

Sincerely,

Russell McMurry, P.E.

Chief Engineer

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides