Project to detect wrong-way vehicles on Phoenix freeway OK'd

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The system will issue warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers along an I-17 stretch. (Source: ADOT) The system will issue warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers along an I-17 stretch. (Source: ADOT)
Construction of the thermal camera pilot system is expected to begin this fall on I-17 from Interstate 10 to Loop 101. (Source: ADOT) Construction of the thermal camera pilot system is expected to begin this fall on I-17 from Interstate 10 to Loop 101. (Source: ADOT)
PHOENIX (AP) -

The state Transportation Board has approved a $3.7 million project to construct a thermal detection system on a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 that will detect wrong-way vehicles on the Phoenix freeway.

"It's not going to stop the vehicle but what it will do is detect locate and track the vehicle so DPS and law enforcement can do a quicker response," said Jim Windsor, Department state engineer. 

[RAW VIDEO: ADOT speaks on wrong-way vehicle detection system]

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told the Arizona Department of Transportation last week to accelerate construction of the system after recent wrong-way crashes.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way drivers]

Construction of the thermal camera pilot system is expected to begin this fall on I-17 from Interstate 10 to Loop 101 with full installation taking seven months.

Further expansion depends on how well the pilot system works.

“The information we get from these cameras during our pilot study can then let us know if we need to deploy any other countermeasures on top of the cameras to stop wrong-way entries from happening on Valley freeways,” said Windsor.

The system will issue warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers along the I-17 stretch.

“It will detect a wrong-way driver and first light up the runway signs in hopes the driver will self-correct. If not, a second camera at the end of the ramp will then send an alert to DPS dispatch letting them know a wrong way driver has entered the freeway. At the same time, our freeway signs will put up a message letting drivers know about the potential danger,” said Windsor.

On freeway ramps, wrong-way vehicles will trigger alerts including illuminated signs with flashing lights aimed at getting drivers to stop.

"Ramp meters will also show a constant red signal to stop or hold traffic from entering the freeway,” said Windsor

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