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Back in 2009, California, Oregon, and Washington made a decision to start turning a portion of the I-5 freeway into an Electric Highway. Hoping to address the limited range of an electric vehicle, the states lined a 160-mile stretch on the West Coast freeway with eight charging stations.
Each station is spaced out 25 miles apart, allowing the vast majority of electric vehicle drivers the ability to safely charge as they head up the Pacific Northwest. The stations are lined between the northern border of California all the way to Cottage Grove, Oregon. It’s the first major section of the I-5 to have this many charging stations along one route.
While most electric vehicles could take some time to fully recharge (three hours to overnight), the Nissan Leaf can utilize 480 volts to go from 20-percent to 80-percent in less than 30 minutes. Just don’t plan on staying in Washington State if you own an electric vehicle.
Here’s a novel idea: Seattle have started posting different speed limit signs along I-5 now, depending on traffic volume.
Dubbed the Smarter Highways project and brought to you by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), these new signs serve multi purposes: to relieve congestion; to indicate when motorists should merge; or when a lane is closed due to construction or an accident.
“This type of information helps prevent the panic braking that causes collisions,” said WSDOT Toll Division Director Craig Stone. “This section of I-5 has a collision every day on average and we expect Smarter Highways to help reduce that.”
These types of signs have made an appearance on interstates around the country, but Washington’s system has regulatory power. That means if you don’t follow the instructions on the sign, you’ll get pulled over.
The project has been going strong for a week and the WSDOT is calling it a success so far. After the system was activated on August 10, speed limits changed right away, telling motorists to slow down as they were reaching a patch of slower traffic.
Not long after, the signs displayed merge arrows to move traffic around a medical emergency. The WSDOT said, “traffic flowed past the incident without sudden braking, last-minute lane changes, stops and collisions.”
Have you come across these types of signal in your travels? Let us know what you think of them, regardless if you have or not.