The Arizona Department of Transportation’s first-of-its-kind dust detection and warning system is increasing safety and helping to maintain the movement of freight and goods – even during dangerous monsoon season storms.
Blinding dust storms on a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 10 in southcentral AZ between Phoenix and Tucson, especially during monsoon season in the summertime, reduce visibility for drivers and caused severe crashes and fatalities. The storms have also restricted freight movement. ADOT knew that additional travel lanes would mitigate the dangers on I-10, but outdated bridge structures at State Route 87 needed to be rebuilt to improve safety and handle traffic demands for the future.
Opened to traffic in November 2019, the I-10/SR 87 project built a travel lane in each direction on a 4-mile stretch of I-10. A modern SR 87 interchange now has two lanes in each direction plus turn lanes and traffic signals over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. But, the cornerstone of the project is the installation of a first-of-its-kind dust detection and warning system.
The dust detection system covers 10 miles between mileposts 209 and 219 on I-10 and includes overhead message boards, variable speed limit signs, closed-circuit cameras and short-range detectors for blowing dust. A long-range weather radar dish sits atop a 22-foot-tall pole at SR 87 interchange that can detect storms more than 40 miles away.
ADOT received a FHWA FASTLANE grant to help fund the $72 million project.
The National Weather Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and local communities have partnered with ADOT to improve safety along this important stretch of I-10. The data collected from the dust detection system will help NWS’s team improve warnings of weather events. Improved freight movement and travel for motorists on I-10. Reduced congestion. Better connectivity at SR 87 and I-10. Ability to detect dust storms and warn travelers to “Pull Aside. Stay Alive.” to help reduce crashes and fatalities. Improved safety.
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