The B.C. Ministry of Transportation has begun installing variable speed signs along the Sea to Sky Highway as part of a new project aimed at reducing weather-related accidents.
The electronic signs will not only warn drivers to slow down in bad weather but will adjust the speed limit in real time to accommodate the current weather conditions using an extensive system of traffic, pavement and visibility sensors. Overhead message signs will also notify drivers that they are entering a variable speed zone.
“As a part of our Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, we looked at how we could help reduce crashes related to bad weather conditions,” said transportation minister Todd Stone in a release this week. “One of the ideas was to introduce new digital variable speed limit signs in areas where the weather can change quickly and sometimes catch drivers off guard.”
A total of 16 variable signs will be installed between Squamish and Function Junction in Whistler. The province said there will be “at least” two to three months of testing before the systems go live to ensure they are “robust, reliable and appropriately calibrated to reflect highway conditions before they are turned on."
“These variable speed signs will be a great addition to our community, which is often subject to challenging weather and road conditions that can change rapidly,” said West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy in the release. “These routes are some of the busiest in the region, and having the ability to adjust speed limits to fit weather conditions is an innovative way we can increase safety for all road users.”
The safety tool is part of a $12.5-million pilot project by the ministry that also includes the installation of variable signs along other stretches of highway known for their challenging weather conditions: Highway 1 from Perry River to Revelstoke and Highway 13 along the Coquihalla.
The pilot program is included in the province’s $25-million-per-year Roadside Safety Program. Learn more at www.engage.gov.bc.ca/transportation.