Are we there yet?

Published 8:35 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Weather permitting, VDOT will unwrap the new sign on I-664 southbound at Dock Landing Road, and five other such signs in Hampton Roads, on Tuesday night.

Travel time signs to be unveiled in North Suffolk

North Suffolk commuters have been wondering about two big, new signs under wraps on Interstate 664.

They are two of six new electronic message signs in Hampton Roads that will display real-time travel times for reaching the Virginia Beach oceanfront or the Outer Banks after they are switched on during Wednesday morning rush hour.

“The signs are part of an ongoing initiative to improve the quality of transportation services in the commonwealth, and are being activated in time for summer vacation travel season,” state Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton stated in a press release.

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The signs are part of a system that will collect data from roadway sensors and Bluetooth devices and combine it with data from INRIX Inc. to display comparative travel times in minutes for two alternate routes.

The signs located on Interstate 664 are set up southbound at Dock Landing Road and eastbound at U.S. Route 58.

The other four signs are at Interstate 264 westbound at First Colonial Road in Virginia Beach, state Route 168 northbound in Chesapeake, and Interstate 64 eastbound at Denbigh Boulevard in Newport News, where there are two.

Gov. Bob McDonnell stated in the release that the signs will help improve overall traveler experience at key decision points approaching and leaving the beach.

“This system will help travelers by providing them with the most reliable travel time information available and where possible, encourage them to use alternate routes that are less congested.”

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Shannon Marshall said in an email, “The Reach the Beach signs are up, tested and working.”

She said crews will be out Tuesday night uncovering the signs, weather permitting.

The I-664 signs will display travel times via I-264 or I-64/High Rise Bridge/I-264, Marshall added.

For travelers from the Washington, D.C., and Richmond areas, travel times will also be displayed at safety rest areas and welcome centers in Fredericksburg, Skippers and New Kent County.

VDOT has installed travel time signs elsewhere in the state, including Interstate 95 between Fredericksburg and Washington, D.C. and on Interstate 66 between Interstate 495 and Gainesville.

Also on Wednesday, VDOT will unveil enhancements to the 511 system, calling it a “new and improved traffic information system,” according to a press advisory.