ADOT dust warning system installed on I-10 for monsoon season

Jun 10, 2020, 4:35 AM
(Getty Images/Ezra Acayan)...
(Getty Images/Ezra Acayan)
(Getty Images/Ezra Acayan)

PHOENIX — A dust detection and warning system developed by the Arizona Department of Transportation has been installed on a portion of Interstate 10 ahead of Monday’s official start to the monsoon season.

The alert system warns drivers to slow down amid reduced visibility south of Phoenix along a ten-mile stretch between Eloy and Picacho Peak, according to a press release.

The system collectively utilizes visibility detectors, a weather radar system, variable speed limit signs, closed-circuit cameras and overhead message boards.

When the system has been activated, drivers first notice signs stating: “Caution: Variable Speed Limit Corridor.”

Programmable speed limit signs placed every 1,000 feet and variable speed limit signs placed every two miles will then direct drivers according to visibility levels.

Additional electronic message boards and speed feedback signs provide additional guidance to drivers.

Message board warnings are activated by visibility sensors mounted on posts along I-10 which utilize light beams to gauge the density of dust particles in the air.

The sensors are also supplemented by information gathered by weather radar on a 20-foot tower at I-10 and State Route 87.

The warning system is then activated when visibility has dropped to necessary levels.

ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center in Phoenix monitors the technology in real-time, providing visual confirmation of data collected by the alert system.

The system cost about $6.5 million and was funded partially by a federal FASTLANE grant that ADOT received to widen portions of I-10.

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ADOT dust warning system installed on I-10 for monsoon season