NEW TAMPA Two new electronic message boards on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard near Interstate 75 could help drivers stay safe and avoid traffic jams.
Road construction workers installed the towering T-shaped message boards in the median of Bruce B. Downs. One is north of the interstate near Dona Michelle Drive, and the other is on the south side near Palm Springs Boulevard.
Transportation officials will activate them remotely to provide real-time traffic alerts and information about severe weather, missing persons, work zones or special events.
Nestled among a row of young trees, the message boards were designed to remain mostly idle and be as unobtrusive as possible. But when activated, they become a powerful tool.
“If there is an accident on the interstate, the best way to keep motorists from getting on the interstate is to alert them in advance,” said resident engineer Scott Passmore, who works for KCI Technologies.
Drivers can expect the see the devices at work during hurricanes and other severe weather events.
They also will light up when law enforcement officials issue an amber alert or a silver alert to advise the public about a missing child or elderly adult.
“The intent is to maximize use of roadway capacity,” Passmore said.
The electronic message boards are part of a statewide program operated by the Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT, known as SunGuide. The program manages and maintains the FDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems.
State transportation officials requested the message boards as part of the recent completion of the first two segments of the Bruce B. Downs Boulevard eight-lane widening.
Construction of the $38 million stretch of the project from Palm Springs Boulevard to Pebble Creek Drivewrapped up in March.
Work on widening the road from Bearss Avenue to Palm Springs Boulevard and from Pebble Creek Drive to County Line Road is yet to begin.
FDOT is investing time and money to the long-planned road project through New Tampa. It plans to widen to eight lanes a short stretch of Bruce B. Downs that runs under I-75 as part of an interstate improvement project.
The state agency spent about $200,000 to cover the cost of the two message boards, Passmore said.