Boldly going where no one has gone before

Boldly going where no one has gone before

September 29, 2017

By Tom Herrmann / ADOT Communications

That familiar quote in the headline above may be better known as the motto for Capt. James Kirk and his minions on the starship USS Enterprise. But it’s not too great a stretch to apply it to the good people overseeing Arizona’s highways, especially given several of the Arizona Department of Transportation initiatives moving forward at warp speed.

Crews are working this fall to install thermal cameras and other technology along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 to create a first-in-the-nation pilot detection and warning system for wrong-way vehicles. In mid-September, thermal cameras being tested along Loop 101 in north Phoenix detected and set off alerts about two vehicles driving the wrong direction down exit ramps. While one driver apparently realized the mistake and turned around, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, acting on the fast notification, stopped the other vehicle on the freeway.

ADOT Director John Halikowski recently joined Juan Ciscomani, a special adviser to Governor Doug Ducey, and others on a trip to Nogales, Sonora, to talk about ADOT’s innovative International Border Inspection Qualification program. ADOT safety inspectors are crossing the border to teach classes on safety requirements for international truckers, something that no one state has done. The idea is to reduce inspection times at the border to boost international commerce while promoting safety on Arizona roads. The classes have been so popular that we’ve doubled the scheduled offerings, and the relationship between Arizona and international truckers is strengthening.

One more thing: Drivers who complete the course can communicate with inspectors even before they reach the border. A smartphone application lets them find out if their truck will pass inspection in time for them to make repairs before getting in line to cross the border. Again, something no one has done before.

Next month, ADOT seek bids for a first-of-its-kind system that has been designed to notify ADOT, DPS and drivers of approaching dust storms in a 10-mile section of Interstate 10 near Picacho. The combination of short-range and long-range radar, real-time notification of drivers, variable speed limits and real-time alerts to traffic operators and law enforcement is designed to make that busy section of highway safer.

Three projects, each designed to make Arizona safer, each the first of its kind.

Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.

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