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Construction begins on wrong-way detection system


PHOENIX – Construction of a first-in-the-nation system to detect wrong-way vehicles and alert law enforcement and other drivers is scheduled to start this month, following State Transportation Board approval of the contract for installation.

At the direction of Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona Department of Transportation has accelerated the start of construction on the $3.7 million pilot project along 15 miles of Interstate 17 in Phoenix. That includes pre-ordering materials, including thermal cameras that will detect wrong-way vehicles as well as poles and fiber-optic cable, rather than waiting for a contractor to secure those items.

Construction is starting a month sooner than earlier project estimates. Installation and testing are expected to be completed by early next year.

The system will use thermal cameras to detect a wrong-way vehicle along an off-ramp, triggering an illuminated wrong-way sign with flashing lights aimed at getting the attention of the driver. The system will immediately alert the Arizona Department of Public Safety and ADOT while warning other freeway drivers in the area through overhead message boards. On the freeway, additional thermal cameras placed at one-mile intervals will signal when a wrong-way vehicle passes to help State Troopers plan their response.