With help from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), state officials in Texas explored the use of variable speed limits (VSLs), an effort that could lead to more efficient highway operations and a decrease in collisions.
Based on legislation passed in 2013, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) funded the VSL pilot study, using signs that display speed limit changes in 10 mile-per-hour increments to help drivers adjust to changing roadway conditions.
TxDOT enlisted the help of researchers at TTI to examine the effectiveness of the practice at three locations across the state for three different evaluation purposes:
- near Ranger Hill in Eastland County on Interstate 20, to evaluate the practice in changing weather conditions;
- on Interstate 35 in central Texas, for construction zone conditions; and,
- along Loop 1604 in San Antonio, for congested conditions.
TTI provided a report to TxDOT in June 2015 reporting the evaluation of the pilot projects. TTI Senior Research Engineer Beverly Kuhn said positive results could lead to changes on Texas roads in the future.
“The evaluation conducted as part of the variable speed limit pilot projects has the potential to impact statewide legislation in Texas,” says Kuhn. “If the strategy shows promise, it may become a viable option for TxDOT to manage roadways in the future.”