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Las Vegas I-15 closures to be worth it when electronic signs go live

Updated February 11, 2019 - 12:03 am

After enduring several full closures of parts of Interstate 15 for the installation of dozens of dynamic traffic signs, readers have inquired: ‘What are these ATM signs?”

Portions of I-15 and U.S. Highway 95 have been shut to traffic overnight on multiple occasions over the better part of the last year so that new active traffic management (ATM) signs could be erected.

The sign installation is part of Project Neon, the almost $1 billion, 4-mile widening of I-15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Sahara Avenue.

An overnight closure is scheduled for one night each of the next two weeks for sign installations. Once those are done, all 42 signs should be in place. The signs will stretch from the Spaghetti Bowl area to Silverado Ranch Boulevard, with several located on U.S. 95 near downtown, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

A lot of the questions readers have concern how ATM signs differ from traffic signs currently in use around the valley.

Most signs on area freeways now show the time it will take to reach certain destinations, where a road closure or construction project is upcoming, or special messages ahead of a busy travel weekend, and most utilize one color.

There are different ATM sign types. Some have text and arrows. Others just have arrows. Different colors are available to point out lanes that are open (green) and lanes that are closed (red).

They are more sophisticated than the existing electronic signage. They can be programmed to inform motorists of lane closures and blockages, or changing speed limits, if needed.

Providing real-time information to motorists about detours, crashes and traffic restrictions, ATM signs enable lane closures to facilitate traffic flows around crashes.

“San Diego installed ATM signs and reduced serious crashes by 46 percent and overall crashes by 20 percent,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia.

More work to be done

With the heavy amount of tourist traffic the stretch of I-15 near the resort corridor sees, the signs will be especially useful on weekends when non-commuter drivers who may not be familiar with the area fill the roads.

After the signs are installed, NDOT will work with NV Energy to install power to them.

Once powered up, NDOT will work to finish connecting the signs to FAST’s (Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation) existing fiber network in the corridor.

“There are a variety of tests occurring before, during and after install to ensure the system is accurately calibrated and fully integrated,” Illia said. “When complete, FAST will be able to monitor and update the signs from their traffic control center.”

Although full closures of I-15 will end after the final signs are installed this month, other lane restrictions for ATM work will impact I-15 northbound and southbound until mid-March, Illia said.

“We still have some work to do at the ATM sites, including drainage, permanent barrier, etc.,” he said. “We are focused on finishing up work first in the areas that are impacting traffic the most, mostly southbound near Tropicana Avenue.”

The signs should go online right around the end of Project Neon, which is slated for substantial completion on July 17.

I-15 closures will return this summer, just ahead of the project’s completion, as an asphalt overlay will be placed on the freeway to finish the surface, erasing “ghost” striping and thereby creating a clean surface for the final striping.

“This work will require a weekend closure of I-15 southbound inside the Project Neon limits, weekday lane restrictions along I-15 southbound and northbound down to Silverado Ranch Boulevard, followed by a weekend closure of I-15 northbound inside the project limits,” Illia said.

I-15 overnight closure

A portion of I-15 will close overnight Monday to install two of the four remaining ATM signs.

The closure is slated to occur from midnight until 4 a.m. on a stretch of I-15 southbound from Tropicana Avenue to the 215 Beltway.

All I-15 southbound traffic will be detoured onto the frontage road near Russell Road, which re-enters I-15 near the 215 Beltway.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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