February 14, 2014 - 10:40 AM
VERNON - You may have noticed the new electronic message boards on Highway 97 and wondered when they are to be turned on.
The signs, located just south of the Okanagan College Vernon campus, are operational, and have been for about three weeks, though they don’t appear to be on much of the time. The signs are only activated when they receive alerts from a nearby weather station.
Erik Lachmuth, with the Ministry of Highways, says the weather station was already there, and needed only to be tapped into for information.
“It has sensors in the ground that detect slippery conditions, then the signs flash that message to drivers,” Lachmuth says. “The signs will only turn on when conditions warrant it.”
The intention is to keep drivers on their toes—and off the gas pedal in slippery conditions. Such signs have been coming online over the last few years, and there are several others throughout the province. No one from the Ministry was available to comment on how much the signs cost by the time this story was published.
The area was chosen based on accident history and its microclimate; the proximity to Kalamalka Lake and quick elevation change means the roadway is often icy.
“The sign tells drivers before they hit the hill what the conditions are,” Lachmuth says.
Formerly, the weather station provided information to Highways staff, but there was no way to relay that information quickly to drivers.
“Instead of it just being a tool for us, now it’s something that can help drivers,” Lachmuth says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014