Road closures start as wrong-way detection system construction underway

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Crews have started construction on a thermal wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system on Interstate 17. (Source: ADOT) Crews have started construction on a thermal wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system on Interstate 17. (Source: ADOT)
Teams checked control cabinets at I-17 and Northern Avenue. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Teams checked control cabinets at I-17 and Northern Avenue. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The construction started about a month ahead of schedule. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The construction started about a month ahead of schedule. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
ADOT's thermal cameras will watch for wrong-way drivers on a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17. (Source: Arizona Department of Transportation) ADOT's thermal cameras will watch for wrong-way drivers on a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17. (Source: Arizona Department of Transportation)
The thermal cameras are meant to sound the alarm the moment a wrong-way driver gets on the freeway. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The thermal cameras are meant to sound the alarm the moment a wrong-way driver gets on the freeway. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Prepare for a weekend road closure as crews with the Arizona Department of Transportation have started construction on a thermal wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system on Interstate 17.

Indian School Road will be closed in both directions at I-17 from 9 p.m. on Friday to noon on Saturday. Both I-17 off-ramps at Indian School Road will also be closed.

ADOT provided video of employees doing trench work at I-17 and Indian School during the week. They were also seen digging, pulling cables and checking control cabinets at I-17 and Northern Avenue.

The construction started about a month ahead of schedule because ADOT pre-ordered some of the materials earlier in the summer rather than wait for the contractor to buy the items, ADOT said. The project is expected to be completed in early 2018.

The $3.7 million pilot project will have more than 40 thermal cameras installed along a 15-mile stretch of the I-17-- from Interstate 10 to Loop 101-- in Phoenix. More road restrictions will be scheduled for other I-17 interchanges between I-10 and the Loop 101 during the next few months. However, no restrictions will be planned during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way drivers in Arizona]

Once operational, the cameras will detect a wrong-way driver at the exit ramp and activate an illuminated wrong-way sign with flashing lights to try to get the driver's attention, ADOT said. Overhead message boards will also be activated to alert other drivers of the possible danger. The thermal cameras at 1-mile intervals will help Troopers plan their response.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Where are these wrong-way-driving incidents happening?]

Nine people have died and another 15 have been hurt because of wrong-way drivers in Arizona so far in 2017. Most recently, four people were hospitalized in serious condition after a wrong-way crash on the I-17 near Sunset Point on Tuesday morning.

[READ MORE: 4 people in serious condition following wrong-way crash on SB I-17]

The system is being built in hopes to cut down on the increasing problem of wrong-way drivers.

“The I-17 pilot system will speed notification, but it can't prevent wrong-way driving, which in most cases involves impaired drivers," ADOT has previously said.

DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead in June described wrong-way driving as a societal issue.

"The roads haven't changed, but people's behavior has changed," Milstead said.

[READ MORE: DPS director says wrong-way crashes are social issue]

On Tuesday, a state lawmaker said she plans to introduce a measure that would require spike strips to be installed on exit ramps. However, that idea has debunked many times.

[READ MORE: Why spike strips won't stop Arizona's wrong-way crashes]

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