Electronic message signs providing travel times in South Central Pennsylvania

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Harrisburg – Starting Monday morning, September 14, motorists in south central Pennsylvania have begun seeing travel times posted on the electronic message signs over and along interstate highways and major expressways. “This service is the result of new software capability,” said PennDOT District 8 Executive Mike Keiser, who is responsible for state-maintained highways in south central Pennsylvania. “We now have the ability to post projected travel times on our electronic message signs based on real-time traffic conditions on the major highways in our region.”

The new software capability will provide motorists with the projected time needed to reach a set destination based on real-time traffic conditions. For example, for motorists traveling on northbound Interstate 81 between Carlisle and Harrisburg, headed to the Exit 67 interchange with Route 22/322, the travel time message could state “US 22/322 … 27 mi … 28 min”. With traffic congestion or an incident adversely affecting traffic, the message could change to indicate more time necessary to cover 27 miles, such as 40 minutes. This new technology should enhance travel for the motorists throughout the region.

There are 67 electronic message signs – also referred to as dynamic message signs (DMS) — utilized by PennDOT in south central Pennsylvania. They are placed along the interstate highways and major expressways to provide traveler information.

These travel time messages are made possible by traffic speed vehicle data from a company called INRIX. The data is derived from readings from in-vehicle GPS units in a variety of vehicles, including long haul trucks, other commercial fleets, passenger vehicles, etc. PennDOT’s Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) utilizes this data to calculate travel times on defined roadway segments and automatically display them on electronic message signs. When travel time messages are active on message signs, the message is automatically updated with the current travel time every 3 minutes.  Travel time messages are only displayed when the data meets a sufficient quality threshold to be classified as real-time and reflective of the actual conditions on the roadway.