Baton Rouge, La. – Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Interim Secretary Sherri LeBas, P.E. announced that work on the state’s first interstate highway ramp meter system began May 10.
The ramp meters will help reduce congestion, provide a safer merge for vehicles entering the interstate travel lanes, improve travel time reliability and complement the I-12 widening. Once activated, the ramp meter signals will stop vehicles for about four seconds on the on-ramp and allow drivers to access the interstate in an orderly and evenly-spaced fashion, sometimes described as a “zipper effect.”
“The ramp meter system combined with the widening projects on I-12 will result in a reduction of travel times by more than 30 minutes for some commuters,” said LeBas. “We must embrace new traffic management systems such as ramp meters because building new roads or widening existing roads is only one means of addressing the needs of the traveling public. Ramp meters will benefit motorists in their daily travels and improve safety for merging traffic.”
Ramp metering facts:
- Studies have shown that ramp meters increase safety by reducing crashes at on-ramps by an average of 30 percent.
- More than 20 states in the nation use ramp meters, but this will be the first use of the traffic management system in Louisiana.
- In a study of the I-12 corridor, the afternoon travel time is 48 minutes, with an average speed of 11 mph. After the combination of widening and ramp meters, some commuters will see commute times reduced to approximately 9 minutes and travel speeds increase to 55 mph.
- DOTD has stressed that the ramp meters will be continually monitored by DOTD personnel. If the system does not improve traffic flow, adjustments can and will be made.
Site work and activation scheduled:
- Beginning May 10: Initial site work including installation of electrical equipment along Interstate 12 on-ramps in the areas of Airline Highway (to eastbound and westbound I-12), Jefferson Highway (to eastbound I-12) and Essen Lane (to westbound I-12).
- Beginning end of May: Installation of ramp meter mast arms and structures.
- Beginning in June: The first ramp meter activation on the Essen Lane westbound on-ramp.
What drivers can expect:
In all, ramp meters will be placed at 16 on-ramps along Interstate 12 between Essen Lane and the Walker/LA 447 interchanges. The installation work begins at Essen Lane and continues east.
Westbound ramp meters will be activated first, then eastbound ramp meters, with Range and O’Neal eastbound being last. Prior to activation, the signal will be covered for several days and a Variable Message Sign (VMS) will notify motorists of the upcoming change.
The ramp meters will operate exclusively during peak travel times, 6-10 a.m. for westbound on-ramps and 2-7 p.m. for eastbound on-ramps, and during special events or incidents.
After the Essen Lane ramp meters are functioning, future installations will be announced to the public prior to activation, and drivers will notice the equipment being installed.
DOTD is offering to meet with interested groups and/or make presentations regarding the ramp meter system or the current Interstate 10/12 widening projects that are part of the Geaux Wider program. For more information on this project, visit www.GeauxWider.com or call Louisiana DOTD Customer Service at 1-877-4LA-DOTD (452-3683) 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The public may also access updated information on Facebook (Facebook.com/GeauxWider1) and Twitter (Twitter.com/GeauxWider).