PennDOT improves warning at I-80 North Fork curve

INDIANA Those who regularly travel eastbound Interstate 80 eastbound may be familiar with the sharp turn at the North Fork Bridge in Brookville, but for those passing through, the turn can catch motorists by surprise.

As such, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is using new technology and updated systems to keep drivers safe around this turn by using sequential LED chevron signage, which follows along with the driver as they make the turn.

Previously, to alert motorists of the upcoming curve just east of the Brookville interchange, PennDOT placed static chevron and curve warning signs with wig-wags: lights that flash in a strobe-light pattern; however, the static signs didn't lessen the number of crashes on and around this turn.

According to case studies, LED chevrons reduce the number of curve-related accidents when installed at the curve location, indicating that motorists needed not just warning signage, but visual guidance when approaching a turn.

A Federal Highway Administration evaluation project found that systems like LED chevrons reduce vehicle speeds and crashes on horizontal curves where, statistically, the crash rate is triple that of other highway segments.

"This sequential chevron system both warns and gives motorist a higher level of visual guidance when approaching and driving through the curve," explainedDave Tomaswick, District 10 traffic engineer.

"Additionally, the LED chevron signs flash continuously day and night and they are wirelessly connected, he added."

Not only have the LED chevrons proven effective, they are far superior to other alternatives regarding cost. Solar energy powers the LED chevrons, so PennDOT didn't have to provide power to the signage.

"This is a low-cost solution that reduces crashes,"declared Tomaswick.

The installation of LED chevron signage on I-80 eastbound was a first for District 10, which comprises Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties.

PennDOT most recently installed LED chevron signage on State Route 119 at the Wake Robin Curve on Dec. 31, 2019.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting http://www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 950 traffic cameras.

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