WUFT News

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

A Gainesville Compost employee demonstrates how kitchen scraps are sifted into finished compost after sitting to break down for about two months at Porter’s Community Farm in the heart of downtown Gainesville. “We love how we can participate in this very urban space, and we can do something agricultural,” said CEO Chris.

Gainesville Composts To Divert Waste

More than 20 organizations have joined Gainesville’s Compost on a mission to divert waste from landfills and from it create valuable soil feed.


Over 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting to receive life saving organs. J.T. helped several people get off that list.

Boy Gives Organ Transplant Recipient New Lease On Life

After a young boy and his mother were killed in a car crash, several people were saved by their choice to be organ donors.


Protestors gather outside the Alachua County Courthouse to show their disapproval of the current law enforcement system.

Protestors Gather at Alachua County Courthouse in Support of Michael Brown

Peaceful protests took place in Gainesville after the news that Officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted for the shooting of Michael Brown.


Tobe Terrell poses with the clay sculpture Nadya Levi modeled after him in the Zen Hostel’s courtyard. Levi has been sculpting since 1949. (Photo by Lauren Adhav)

Zen Hostel Offers Tranquility To Travelers And Residents

Gainesville’s Zen Hostel offers spiritual and physical refuge for travelers and residents during its busiest months.


Local animal shelters are using stricter and more thorough adoption procedures in order to find permanent homes for their animals. This is to prevent people from impulsively adopting pets and later returning them.

Local Animal Shelters Have Developed Stricter Adoption Methods

Local animal shelters have developed stricter adoption methods to prevent indecisive pet owners from returning their animals, which causes a strain on the organizations and increases the likeliness of unwanted pets being euthanized.


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
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments