No speed limit lanes? ODOT working on an alternative

ODOT experimenting with ‘Smartlane’

No speed limit lanes? ODOT working on an alternative
A Smartlane would allow the wide median to be used as an extra lane for traffic during high traffic times only.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -Recently, a California law maker introduced a bill that would require new traffic lanes to be built that would have no maximum speed limit in the Sacramento area.

No speed limit lanes? ODOT working on an alternative

The goal behind the proposal is to limit greenhouse gases by limiting the amount of time Californians are stuck idling in traffic.

Checking with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Ohio has never considered turning drivers loose on sections of highways with no speed limits, not even the turnpike.

“Practically speaking, there would never be a reason to consider it because the turnpike is free-flowing 99.86 percent of the time (from 2018 turnpike traffic statistics),” according to Brian Newbacher the Public Information Officer for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. “Such a non-limit whether in separate lanes or otherwise also brings up the issue of safety.”

Instead ODOT is about to experiment with what they are calling a Smartlane on one busy stretch of I-670 east bound in Columbus.

“This will allow us to use the wide inside shoulder as a temporary lane of travel during the afternoon commute,” according to Matt Bruning. Press Secretary for ODOT. “We only see congestion on that highway for a couple of hours in the PM, so it doesn’t make sense to add a more expensive permanent lane to address it.”

The way it works is the inside median would allow traffic but only at certain times of the day.

Signs above the lane would either have a red X a green arrow indicating whether or not you can travel in the median lane.

If traffic is congested enough, traffic controllers in Columbus would activate the extra lane.

If the extra lane is open all traffic will be required to slow from 55 miles per hour to 45.

“To use this concept, we have to slow traffic down to help harmonize speed and because traffic is running closer to the concrete barrier wall,” Bruning said.

The entire $61 million dollar project, that includes two new ramp bridges, should have the Smartlanes open in the fall of 2019.

If the project works in Columbus ODOT said Smartlanes could be used in other parts of the state.

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