PHOENIX — Drivers in the Valley may have already noticed upgrades on the freeway in the form of bigger, brighter, and newer wrong-way signs.
The Arizona Department of Transportation said they are wrapping up this extensive project to install hundreds of new signs to try and stop drivers from entering the freeway going in the wrong direction.
"Our crews have been working mostly at night, and they have been adding... changing out the older signs for these larger, more noticeable signs," explained Doug Nintzel with the department.
Nintzel said those workers have been installing the upgrades since April, but they have been working on changing signs statewide for the last five years.
They are wrapping up the project now after adding more than 140 new signs.
Nintzel also explained these signs had been lowered. Road officials think it would be more likely to catch a wrong-way driver's attention if the sign was more in their line of sight.
"They've been lowered from approximately seven feet above ground level to approximately three feet above ground level," Nintzel said.
ADOT said the signs had been installed on off-ramps, freeway overpasses, and bridges.
"If you're driving the right way, you don't see those signs," Nintzel said. "But, they're located along over the left lanes of the freeway because wrong-way drivers tend to be in those lanes because they think they're in the right lane driving along the freeway."
The funding for the more than $2 million changes come from Federal Highway Safety Funds.
But, ADOT believes signs are not the perfect solution.
"It's not one countermeasure that can get the job done," Nintzel said. "We know that this is part of the mix."
ADOT recently won an award for its thermal wrong-way detection pilot program on the I-17. The department said they are working to evaluate the success of the program to see if they will install it on other freeways.
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