Ever since the Ohio Department of Transportation opened the state’s first SmartLane on Interstate 670 east late last year, average commute times have been cut in half.
This innovative solution to congestion and travel time reliability allows ODOT to open the left shoulder as an extra eastbound lane during peak travel times and times of heavy congestion. When not needed, the SmartLane closes for use by law enforcement, emergency responders and maintenance crews.
The SmartLane technology includes 9 full-color overhead digital signs, more than 30 cameras, and 9 radar detectors that collect data on traffic speed and density. Trained operators in ODOT’s Traffic Management Center monitor the incoming data and open the lane as speeds begin to drop to keep the corridor moving efficiently.
Prior to construction, traffic speeds averaged 25 mph and the evening commute from downtown Columbus to the East Side of the city could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. So, if you had to be somewhere by a certain time, you couldn’t count on it. In the first month of operation, average travel times were cut in half and drivers can now rely on a 5-minute-commute, regardless of the time of day.
Dozens of drivers have reached out to ODOT on social media to express their gratitude. Commuter Ryan Rackley even told the Columbus Dispatch that he no longer has to worry about not picking up his kids in time. Instead of leaving work at 5 p.m. on the dot, he said he now has some breathing room to still make it.
An added bonus? The cost of the SmartLane technology totals $12 million, a fraction of the cost of traditional highway widening.