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Caltrans Switch On Electric Freeway Signs To Ease North County Commute

The California Department of Transportation on Thursday switched on electronic freeway signs intended to make the North County Inland commute a bit easier.

The signs are posted along a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 15 between Route 78 in Escondido to just north of Route 52 in San Diego.

If there's an incident on the I-15 that will cause a significant backup, the signs will direct drivers to alternate routes on surface streets. The system will also control traffic signals on those surface streets to keep them from getting too congested.

Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments built the system with $10.8 million in state and federal grants.

"Our region is a leader in taking advantage of technology to make our transportation system more efficient," said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who's also chairman of the SANDAG board. "These important steps on Interstate 15 will lead to even more effective use of innovations that are still to come."

For decades, I-15 from Escondido and back was one of the region's most difficult commutes. But widening express lanes and building new ones have helped eased the traffic, and much of the congestion has been related to collisions or other incidents.

Many drivers already choose to use surrounding surface streets to bypass freeway incidents and reduce traffic delays.

The system's real-time information and traffic management will help alleviate congestion and enable motorists to determine when to take a different route, as well as guide them past traffic congestion with the least amount of impact to local streets, according to SANDAG.

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