Nevada freeways go high-tech to fight congestion

| 7/26/2002

Starting next week throughout Southern Nevada, the state's experiment with using high-tech to fight heavy congestion will kick in. Eleven message boards will be turned on. The signs will be just one element in a high-tech system known as the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST).

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, FAST will include sensors that detect travel speeds, closed-circuit cameras and ramp meters, all monitored and directed from a traffic control center.

When fully operational, FAST will collect and furnish information that will allow faster responses by emergency personnel and diminish the traffic jams that lead to accidents. The system also can detect and report accidents to authorities and motorists almost instantaneously.

The message signs, which cost $1.7 million, first appeared in the spring of 2001 and were scheduled to go into operation last summer. Electrical and software problems caused some delays. Then officials could not decide which messages would be most appropriate.

The Las Vegas Area Computer Traffic System will operate the system during the day, though authorities say they will still rely on state troopers and transportation construction bulletins until the system is fully operational within three years.