PHOENIX – Drivers may have noticed something different as they’ve traveled along Phoenix-area freeways this week.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has increased the hours and days when travel times are displayed on overhead message signs above Valley freeways.
Until now, only weekday rush-hour commuters benefited from seeing those “commute times.”
Drivers can now expect to see those the travel times during evening hours and on weekends, since ADOT expanded the program beyond weekday morning and afternoon rush hours.
The expanded program began on Mon., July 27. Message boards are now displaying the estimated travel times seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
The travel time displays, which ADOT first introduced on message signs in 2008, provide drivers with estimated commute times to locations ahead, such as major cross streets and destinations like the I-10 Deck Park Tunnel near downtown Phoenix.
ADOT actually tested the expanded travel-times program for three days leading up to this year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, when a number of events and heavier traffic conditions occurred at times across the Valley.
The agency has received positive public feedback about the travel times. The goal is to provide drivers with information related to freeway conditions ahead of them. For example, drivers might choose an alternate route to save time. That can have a positive impact on the overall flow of freeway traffic.
Seventy-seven of the overhead message boards in the Phoenix area display commute times.
ADOT worked with the Maricopa Association of Governments, the metropolitan planning organization in the Phoenix area, in launching the commute-times program seven years ago. The system uses freeway-management technology, including sensors in the pavement, to calculate estimated travel times.
The destinations that are displayed on the message boards are determined by ADOT, after receiving feedback from local cities and AZTech. AZTech is a regional partnership of agencies that has teamed up for more than two decades to improve the management of traffic conditions in the Phoenix area.