Whitemud Drive speed suggestion project not moving forward despite success

File: Traffic on Whitemud Drive. Global News

A pilot project aimed at improving travel time on Whitemud Drive, which was hailed a success by the City of Edmonton, will not move forward right now because of a lack of funding.

In the summer of 2015, digital signs were posted on a section of Whitemud Drive, suggesting a speed for drivers in order to avoid congestion and optimize travel time.

The project found that when drivers reduced their speed, congestion at on-ramps was reduced. The study also found that average speed during peak periods actually increased by 30 kilometres per hour.

Despite the success, the city said the project has been put on hold.

“There is currently no funding for the permanent installation of this project,” Maya Filipovic with the City of Edmonton said in an email to Global News.

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The city said funding is needed to automate the software that updates the speed messaging. This task was done manually during the pilot and it’s not something the city can permanently facilitate with its current staffing, Filipovic said.

“Being able to do it automatically through a computer system would be the ideal approach but that would cost some amount of dollars,” city councillor Andrew Knack added.

Money for maintenance and to permanently install portable or fixed messaging signs along the Whitemud would also be required to move forward with the project.

“Also, there was an operational requirement to conduct a winter test. At this point, we want to finalize the smart road strategy and secure funding before proceeding with any further pilots on this project.”

The project ran for four weeks in August 2015 between 111 Street and 159 Street. Between 2010 and 2014, the city said there were 334 collisions on this part of Whitemud Drive, involving 677 vehicles and 44 injuries.

READ MORE: Whitemud Drive speed suggestion project aims to improve traffic flow

The recommended driving speed is calculated using volume and speed data, which is gathered by sensors under the roadway and ramps. The data is processed through a complex algorithm developed by the University of Alberta’s Centre for Smart Transportation, which partnered with the city for the project.

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The city said the Whitemud was chosen because of the congestion it sees during peak times.

Similar technology has been implemented in France, Sweden and the United States.

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