Truckers running Interstate 95 through Virginia ought to be prepared to see the speed limit change before their very eyes on one part of the highway.
The Virginia Depart of Transportation activated new LED signs displaying variable speed limits Wednesday, June 22, on I-95 northbound in Caroline and Spotsylvania counties and in the City of Fredericksburg. The goal, according to VDOT, is to regulate traffic flows when congestion occurs.
Variable speed limit signs, paired with changeable message signs, have replaced static speed limit signs over a 15-mile section of I-95 northbound. The new signs are located between exit 110 (Ladysmith) and exit 130 (Route 3/Fredericksburg), from mile markers 115 to 130. The variable speed limit signs are located every half-mile to one mile in the project corridor, with a total of 48 speed limit signs, installed in pairs.
The signs will display variable speed limits between 35 mph and 70 mph, depending on the flow of traffic.
VDOT said drivers will be expected to adjust their speed in this area based on information about real-time traffic conditions and delays on the road ahead. Gradually slowing traffic as it approaches congestion will help to reduce the risk of crashes and stop-and-go backups.
Flashing beacons attached to the signs will be activated when speed limits are reduced below the maximum limit. Additional static signs posted on I-95 northbound before mile marker 115 will notify drivers they are entering a variable speed limit corridor.
Message boards controlled by operators in VDOT’s Traffic Operations Centers will communicate the reason why speed limits are being lowered, such as congestion ahead, weather conditions, or lane closures for crashes, work zones or other incidents. Six new 511Virginia traffic cameras will be installed in the corridor, which will assist with traffic monitoring.
Speed limits will be reduced by only 10 mph at a time, and will hold at that speed for at least a minute so drivers can reduce their speeds at a comfortable rate.
When congestion clears, the speed limits will go up directly to the maximum allowable speed limit.
VDOT also uses variable speed limits on Interstate 77 at Fancy Gap in Carroll County, as well as on the approaches and in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and on the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel.