Arizona studies use of remote systems to guide merge traffic

The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying use of remote technology to help manage highway traffic that needs to merge when approaching a highway work zone involving at least one lane closure.

ADOT says it has set up a “smart work zone” with a remotely controlled system using computers, portable message boards and sensors to provide drivers with real-time instructions based on changing circumstances.

The study is being conducted at two bridge rehabilitation sites on Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Winslow in northern Arizona.

The remote system directs westbound traffic to merge into one lane well ahead of the work sites if traffic is light but encourages drivers to wait to merge as long as possible if traffic is heavy.

ADOT says the delayed approach, called a zipper merge, is more efficient to move heavy traffic through a work zone where a lane is closed.