North Carolina DOT wins $1.5M federal transportation grant to expand traveler information

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it had received a federal grant of $1.5 million to improve road safety, particularly in work zones.

The funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program. NCDOT will use the money to develop a system that alerts travelers to safety needs along roadways, such as the need to slow down, stop or change lanes. Currently, the program is used on a small scale to alert commercial truck drivers about slow traffic.

This new project will allow NCDOT to alert travelers in real-time via their smartphones, navigation apps, and other technology of safety issues ahead of them. Kelly Wells, the department’s traveler information engineer who helped write the grant application, said equipping drivers with more timely alerts about sudden changes in traffic conditions will help reduce crashes.

The program will be deployed on two work zones in the next year – I-95 around Lumberton and Fayetteville and I-40 in Haywood County, west of Asheville. NCDOT said those two areas were chosen because of long-term work zones there.

The project will also be working on sending alerts directly to connected and autonomous vehicles and partnering with popular travel apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps, the department said.

The project’s total cost is estimated to be nearly $2 million.