20 Months After I-75 Crash, Electronic Signs Still At Least A Year Away

By and on October 3rd, 2013

Cars braking during dense smoke on Interstate 75 on the night of the multi-vehicle accident in 2012.

Photo by UF student Ronny Herrera at the scene

Cars braking during dense smoke on Interstate 75 on the night of the multi-vehicle accident in 2012.

Construction on electronic signs along areas of Interstate 75 should begin around January, nearly two years after the 20-vehicle pileup that inspired public concern over drivers’ safety on the highway.

Construction should finish in about a year, Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Gina Busscher said.

“It just takes a lot of time sometimes,” she said, “because we want to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, not just wasting money and doing a knee-jerk reaction to things.”

Eleven people died and 21 people were injured in the Payne’s Prairie pileup January 29, 2012.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report cited several reasons for the accidents: the time of night, poor visibility from fog and smoke and an inadequate warning system. The report criticized the highway patrol’s decision-making process for closing and re-opening the interstate.

State Rep. Keith Perry has been outspoken about the I-75 tragedy. He said he hopes new technology will solve problems with the old warning system.

“The other problem is that you cannot have people full-time monitoring all of the road ways,” Perry said. “And so what happened in this instance — as the road got to a point where it was deemed and should be close — was based on a physical person being there making that assumption.”

A study was required to implement new technology for certain road ways, Busscher said. This technology uses a multitude of new tools to communicate with not only the public, but law enforcement as soon as possible.

“It will be able to provide information on when the visibility issue comes in where they can’t see so many feet ahead of them because of fog,” Busscher said. “That information will be transmitted to the message boards so it will automatically start telling people that there is a fog issue, and then when it gets to a certain point, it triggers our people out traffic management center that they know to alert law enforcement.”

Perry acknowledges it’s been a slow process towards seeing practical improvements, but he said the new system will be one that can be used and improved upon.

“We were all a little frustrated at the time it has taken,” Perry said. “I think the end result will be something that will work very well, but I hope we just don’t sit back and say, ‘OK we’ve done this, and that’s all we need to do.'”

“We still need to always be looking forward,” he said, “always looking at what we can do.”

Electronic signs can be seen in Jacksonville and Orlando. A similar incident in 2011 on Interstate 10 killed two people and involved 40 vehicles.

Orlando resident Dave Barnett said the signs are extremely useful and helpful to motorists in his area.

“I see everything (on the signs), both when there is an Amber Alert or when somebody elderly is missing, or just for traffic updates when there’s a closure up ahead or something,” he said.

This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

More Stories in Local

Putnam County's Clothing Closet currently has about 80,000 articles of clothing available. Thanks to a partnership between Putnam County and Dignity U Wear, the project provides students of poverty-stricken families with sets of brand news clothes to help with self-confidence at school.

Putnam County Clothing Closet Provides Clothes for Underprivileged Students

Putnam County School Districts Clothing Closet partnered with Dignity U Wear to provide clothes for underprivileged students. The program aims to help cloth students who are living below the poverty line in the county.

For National Fire Prevention Week, area fire departments are stressing the importance of having working smoke alarms.

Local Fire Organizations Promote Fire Safety Awareness

National Fire Prevention Week started Oct. 4. Gainesville and Ocala organizations will join the promotion of the national theme, “Hear the beep where you sleep. Every bedroom needs a working smoke alarm!”

Evanna Alvarez, 10, is spearheading a donation drive to keep the shelves of the Alachua County Humane Society filled with peanut butter for the dogs. They go through 15 jars of it each week.

Local Girl Scout Launches Peanut Butter Drive for Humane Society

Local Girl Scout Evanna Alvarez launched a GoFundMe campaign and donation drive to bring peanut butter to the Alachua County Humane Society. The Humane Society goes through 15 jars of peanut butter a week feeding dogs.

A group of dignitaries recently broke ground for the Cade Museum of Creativity and Innovation in Gainesville.

Cade Museum Groundbreaking Coincides with 50th Anniversary of Gatorade

The Cade Museum held its ground-breaking ceremony Oct. 2 and is scheduled to open in 2017. The museum will celebrate the legacy of Robert Cade, inventor of Gatorade, in the 50th anniversary of the sports drink.

Thaddeus Bullard sits with homeless couple, Joe and Vivian Mulligan, as he listens to their story.

UF Hall Of Famer And WWE Superstar Feeds The Homeless

Former Gator great Thaddeus Bullard is completing his challenge of 3,000 volunteer hours to the Gator Nation. Along the way, he stopped by the St. Francis House house to help serve food and mingle with the crowd.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments