NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — By the end of the month, the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s “SMART Corridor” pilot program will begin on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Murfreesboro.
The first-of-its-kind in Tennessee technology will gather traffic data and relay that to the 67 structures TDOT constructed over a nearly 30-mile stretch of I-24.
The structures, called gantries, will have screens hanging over each lane, which will inform drivers if the lane is open, if they need to prepare to merge because of an upcoming obstruction or accident, and how fast traffic is moving.
“I think this is something that we’ve really been working toward; it’s something that could really change the way we manage traffic in Tennessee,” said Rebekah Hammonds, TDOT Community Relations Officer.
Hammonds said the “SMART Corridor” is nearly ready and will be in place at the latest by the end of the month after many roadblocks.
She said main motivation behind this pilot program is improving safety on the interstate by making drivers more aware of what’s ahead.
“What our goal is, is to reduce those secondary crashes. If someone can see that something’s happening up ahead, they’re not going to be maybe focused on your phone or GPS or talking to their passenger,” said Hammonds. “They’ll see the gantry and they’ll see the variable speed limit; they’ll know that there’s already a slowdown; it’s not going to come out of the blue for them.”
The other objective is to make commutes more predictable.
“Let’s say it’s rush hour, you know that you’re not normally able to go 75 miles per hour, right?…But the variable speed limit will be displayed on the gantry and you can actually see the accurate representation and reflection of how fast people ahead of you are going,” Hammonds explained.
If the program is a success, TDOT said they will start rolling out other “SMART Corridors” across the state.
Learn more about the I-24 SMART Corridor project here.