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ADOT updates freeway ramp meters to change based on traffic conditions

The Arizona Department of Transportation  has upgraded about 75% of its 250 ramp meters across the Phoenix area to better adapt to real-time conditions.

Ramp meters are the timed lights along on-ramps that tell drivers to stop and alternate lanes as vehicles get on the freeway.

Now, Phoenix meters are getting enhanced computer programming to operate the timing of the meters’ lights based on traffic conditions. ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said the upgrade allows nearby meters to talk to each other.

“They’re speaking through computer data, but a ramp meter can now know what a neighboring meter’s area is experiencing with traffic a mile down the line," he said. "That ramp meter can then extend the time between cars entering the freeway, which helps with the overall traffic flow.”

ADOT plans to expand the use of adaptive ramp metering along additional sections of freeway over time.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.