JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harnessing technology to improve traffic flow. That's the idea behind a project called Intelligent Transportation Systems. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is spending $10 million to enhance safety on Interstate 10 in Jackson County.
MDOT is installing 40 miles of fiber optic cable along the busy highway. It will provide the critical information highway that will allow MDOT to analyze traffic conditions and transmit that information directly to drivers.
"What it does is it incorporates numerous types of advanced technology, such as radar detection, Bluetooth detection, electronic message boards," said MDOT area engineer Mike Harter.
Stationary sensors mounted on poles along I-10 will measure traffic volume and velocity.
The information will be transmitted to a traffic control center in Gulfport, which will analyze the data and relay real-time information to drivers.
Ten giant message boards along the interstate will provide instant updates.
"As far as the completed project, the most important thing is just the gathering of correct information. Accurate information. Get that out to the public. Get it out to the drivers, so they know what to expect," said Harter.
Along with the mounted traffic sensors, cameras will play a critical role.
"Traffic cameras are a very large part of this. We're actually putting in 100 high definition cameras throughout the I-10 corridor. When the project is complete, the public will be able to view that in real time via mdottraffic.com," said Harter.
One spot where the new system might be especially beneficial is the long bridge in Pascagoula where the occasional heavy fog or multi-car accident can tie up traffic for miles.
"Traffic flow and safety and getting the information out to the public is the most important thing. We're looking forward to it, and we really think it's going to help traffic flow," said Harter.
Along with the traffic flow initiative, MDOT is also about to begin work on a two-year, $40 million widening project on I-10 in Jackson County. The interstate will be widened from four to six lanes between the Ocean Springs and Vancleave exits.