Columbia County takes traffic signs to the next level
Columbia County is moving forward with some cutting edge traffic signs that will put the county at the forefront of traffic management.
“These will be the first of this type in the state,” says traffic engineer Glen Bollinger. “There are some like it around the Atlanta metro area, but nobody’s actually doing it quite like we are.”
The permanent dynamic message signs are full-color matrix signs similar to some of the automated billboards around town. Not only will they be able to scroll traffic alerts, but they will be able to post pictures for Amber Alerts and other law enforcement information.
The eight signs — three along Washington Road, three along Belair and one each on both Flowing Wells and Columbia roads — are a component of Columbia County’s Intelligent Transportation System, which helps move traffic efficiently through the county.
“The signs work with the adaptive traffic signal system, which tries to move traffic as quickly as it can, and the priority control component, where we can give emergency vehicles green lights when they need them to get ambulances and fire trucks through the traffic lights,” Bollinger says. “We’re plugging in all this stuff, and it’s just one big system that will keep people moving around the county as quickly as it can.”
Because the signs are slated for state roads, the county needed to get state approval before going out for bid.
“We’re looking at a couple of different models,” Bollinger says. “One of them is going to be around a 4×8 and the other size would be around a 5×10.”
Funded through the transportation money carved out of the county’s SPLOST revenue, each sign is projected to cost around $30,000.
“It’s not just small town USA anymore,” Bollinger says. “We’re pushing tons of traffic all over Columbia County every day. We’ve got so much traffic and people moving around that this is the kind of thing that’s very important. It’s going to keep the public knowing what’s going on.”
The Intelligent Traffic System has been operating in Columbia County since early 2011 and has been expanding ever since. Currently, the system has 112 cameras covering 28 intersections, which are all visible on a wall of state of the art monitors at the county’s Traffic Control Center.
The dynamic message signs are a logical next step, allowing traffic engineers to target specific messages to specific signs in real time.
“We’ll have somebody in our traffic control center who can update the messages live and as instantly as possible,” Bollinger says. “We might have a message at Belair and I-20 that’s different than what we’ve got out on Washington Road.”
Soon, Bollinger says, the same advisories will also be delivered directly to Twitter and Facebook subscribers, so drivers will know what’s going on along their travel route or what travel times are from point to point.
The signs, mounted on poles off the roadway, will communicate through the county’s new broadband fiber network, and though the state has obvious restrictions about advertising, Bollinger says messages could certainly let people know about county events that are coming, since they wouldn’t be advertising the event, but would instead by directing information about traffic problems associated with the events like the annual Christmas Parade.
Given the lengthy bid process, Bollinger expects the signs to be operational by fall. You Might Also Like: