FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Variable speed limit signs can now be seen along Interstate 95 northbound from Ladysmith to Fredericksburg. On Wednesday, drivers will be expected to reduce their speed if there is congestion reported ahead.
The Virginia Department of Transportation noticed an increase in congestion-related crashes after conducting a study along I-95. The results from this study showed that cars traveling at a high speed stopped unexpectedly after encountering stopped or slower-moving traffic. Because of this, they installed 48 LED variable speed signs on Thursday, June 16 across a 15-mile stretch between Ladysmith and Fredericksburg.
“I think anything that they can do to help traffic move along and to make it safer is a good thing,” said driver Charlene Rusnak who is familiar with these signs in other locations.
The variable limit signs have been used on other interstates across the country such as on Interstate 77 at Fancy Gap as well as on the approaches and in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel.
Right now, the signs along I-95 show the maximum speed limit between 65 mph and 70 mph. Beginning on Wednesday, June 22, this new system will be in full effect on I-95 showing maximum speed limits varying from 35 mph and 70 mph.
Before approaching the variable speed limit signs, a message board operated by VDOT’s Traffic Operations Center will notify drivers of the reduced speed and the reason why the speed limit is being reduced. Reasons could include weather conditions, lane closures for crashes, work zones and more. When the speed limit is lowered, it will only be reduced by 10 mph at a time and will hold at that speed for at least a minute to allow time for drivers to reduce their speed at a comfortable rate. Once the congestion clears the speed limit will immediately return to the maximum speed limit.
In the event of a power outage, backup power will operate the variable speed limit signs and system for up to 24 hours. If there is a system component failure, VDOT’s on-call maintenance contractor is required to schedule a repair for the signs within 8 hours.