Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Is The New Sign Saying "TEST" In The Median Near Safeway?

Blog readers have sent email asking what the new sign is for that appeared a few weeks ago in the middle of NE 45th Street near Safeway.

We learned it is part of Children's Hospital's Livable Streets Initiative., required by the City of Seattle as part of the mitigation of the Major Institution Master Plan, in which Children's is required to contribute nearly $4 million on transportation improvements in NE Seattle.

Traffic on Montlake Boulevard as well as Montlake Bridge opening status will be shown on the new Dynamic Messaging Sign.

Paulo Nunes-Ueno, Director of  Transportation and Sustainability at the Hospital told us that the sign called, a Dynamic Message Sign (DMS) , installed on NE 45th Street west of Union Bay Place, is part of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), which can be installed quickly and  "improves the flow of traffic without the expense and disruption of expanding roadways through technologies and operations strategies."
On Page 19 of the the Livable Street Initiative the project is detailed under the heading “Making Traffic Flow More Efficiently” and says that travel times using information from traffic cameras and pavement sensors will be shown on the new sign and also posted on the City of Seattle Travelers’ Information Map, an online traffic map that the City runs. 
"The improved traveler information will help reduce congestion by allowing drivers to avoid traffic jams and openings of the Montlake Bridge", the report says.

In addition to the new sign, new traffic detectors along NE 45th and Montlake Boulevard. have also been installed to also help with the traffic reporting posted onto the sign.
"When operational these pieces will work together to help drivers choose the best route by displaying both travel time and Montalke bridge status on the Dynamic Message Sign and on-line," Paolo told us.
Here is the timeline the Seattle Department of Transportation has provided to the Hospital moving towards getting into the production mode with the sign:
  • Week of May 6th: sign will start posting messages about Montlake Bridge Status
  • Week of May 6t:  any incident or planned construction messages (such as the SR520 closure ) could be posted
  • Early June: travel time posted as well as on The Traveler Information Map, including congestion indicators on the map.
Paolo told us that until next week when the sign becomes operational, drivers will continue for now to see the sign go through a variety of tests including: ‘a “burn test” for the sign, where the same message is posted without interruption for a certain period of time.
"We think this project will make driving on NE 45th Street and Montlake a little less stressful and a little more predictable," Paolo added.

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