FDOT shuts off I-95 ramp signals within week of turning them on

Posted at 9:28 AM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 10:37:47-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation installed eight flashing ramp signals at Palmetto Park Road, Atlantic Boulevard and Cypress Creek Road to alleviate and control traffic coming onto Interstate 95 on Jan. 31.

But the FDOT turned off half of the ramp signals within one week after they proved to do quite the opposite.

Freeway operations specialist Marielys Gensler said the signals were causing traffic backups stretching into the intersections, and she said in some instances, drivers were speeding around other cars stopped at the signal.

"We're going to be more careful with those signals," Gensler said. "Those are not going to be on for some time until we figure that out."

Gensler said if the city's stoplight systems notice a turn lane is backed up, they'll add seconds to the green light. But, she said, when that happens, it can fill up the on-ramp.

The FDOT is working with municipalities to solve these issues, according to Gensler.

"There's just a learning curve," Gensler said. "It's going to take some time for the public to get used to it."

This all comes after months, and in some cases years, of preparation by the FDOT to make the installation process seamless.

A Canadian-based company called Aecon was hired by the FDOT to conduct a traffic study. Gensler said it found that dozens of ramps on I-95 would be good candidates for the signs, but she said the study was done several years ago.

Now, with the recent growth in South Florida, Gensler said the backup are far worse than they were expecting.

"That study was completed a couple years ago, and as we know, volumes change," she said. "So, when we turned them on, we expected some high volumes, but not as high as we're seeing now."

WPTV has attempted to contact Aecon about these studies but has not received a response. The FDOT has not released the cost of the traffic study.

The ramp signals cost taxpayers $121,000 per signal. In total, they cost nearly $1 million, which comes out of state funds.

The installation costs for the ramp signals were rolled into the I-95 construction project, according to the FDOT.

Traffic officials wants to remind drivers to pull up to the white line adjacent to the signal to trigger the light. They also want to remind drivers to fully stop and not drive around other vehicles that are stopped at the white line.