Monday, January 26, 2004

More road alerts on the way

N. Ky. to add three ARTIMIS system signs

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

You're cruising along Interstate 75 when traffic comes to a grinding halt. If only you had known to exit a minute sooner and go a different route.

That's one reason for those big black message boards throughout Greater Cincinnati that alert drivers to congestion ahead. They're known as ARTIMIS signs and have been popping up over local highways since 1998.

The Advanced Regional Traffic Interactive Management & Information System was started in 1995. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Ohio Department of Transportation fund it, and it covers 88 miles of highway.

"'Know before you go' is what our theme is," said Tim Schoch, spokesman for ARTIMIS. "People have come to rely on those signs and trust them."

There are 40 signs in all - 30 in Cincinnati and 10 in Northern Kentucky. But that total south of the river will be 13 by the spring.

One is already in place and should be operating in the next month. Located eastbound on Interstate 275 in Hebron, just before the Ky. 237 exit, it will post information on the traffic status at the I-275/I-75 interchange in Erlanger.

The other two signs will be put up in the next couple of months on Interstate 75 in Boone County. The northbound sign between the Richwood and Mount Zion roads exits will give commuters information on traffic heading toward Cincinnati. The southbound sign will be just north of Mount Zion Road.

"The southbound sign is not necessarily a Northern Kentucky sign, but an I-75/I-71 sign," said Leon Walden, project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. "If there is a major accident on one of those highways, people will know about it before the split."

The split of I-75 and I-71 occurs in Walton, about six miles south of where the new sign will be.

It could be especially beneficial to commuters during the summer on Kentucky Speedway race days.

The signs will also be mounted with cameras to help the ARTIMIS control center in Cincinnati monitor the roads. Along with the 40 signs in the region today, there are more than 80 cameras, 57 miles of fiber optic cable in the roads and 1,100 other various detectors.

Trenkamp said the manufacturing and installation of the two signs near Mt. Zion Road will cost about $630,000 for both.

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