Date: August 3, 2023
District: 3 - Marysville
Engineers Conducting Tests This Month Before Going Live with Full Color Boards
MARYSVILLE — In a sign of the times and a first in California, Caltrans is poised to join the color revolution with the unveiling of more than two dozen state-of-the-art full-color overhead highway message boards spread across the greater Sacramento Valley and Sierra regions.
Caltrans District 3 engineers this month are conducting final tests on 28 new color changeable message signs dotting U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado and Sacramento counties, Interstate 5 in Sacramento County and State Highways 70 and 99 in Butte County.
District 3 is the first in California to widely deploy full-color message signs, which cost about $2.5 million. Other regions have installed these signs as a pilot project.
Before going live in mid-September, local motorists are spotting a message reading “CMS Test in Prog(ress); Ends 09/01/2023” on these new boards.
Engineers are testing the performance of these signs to ensure their long-term reliability before turning on the switch.
“The new changeable message signs will allow Caltrans to display reliable real-time travel and traffic safety information using high-resolution color text and images during both day- and night-time driving conditions,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal.
In addition, the sign technology enables Caltrans to display pictorial messages in color, which will better communicate roadway conditions to non-English speaking motorists. “Caltrans is firmly committed to ensuring equity for all drivers in California,” Benipal said.
The new boards will supplement 79 existing changeable message signs along state routes in eight counties (Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Nevada, Butte, Yolo, Colusa and Sutter). However, these existing boards are limited to amber text-only messages.
“The older boards frequently experience problems with pixels going out, resulting in garbled and confusing messages to travelers. Troubleshooting these signs can be time consuming and lead to longer down times and higher maintenance costs,” Benipal said.
Highway changeable message signs date back to the mid-1950s in the United States. New Jersey transportation officials, for example, deployed these signs in 1957 to control traffic flow through the Lincoln Tunnel between New York City and New Jersey.
Studies indicate changeable message signs can be a cost-effective measure to improve traffic flow and slow down drivers who are traveling over the speed limit in poor weather.
Caltrans District 3 maintains more than 4,385 lanes miles of state highway in 11 Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra counties.
For updates on all District 3 projects, follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist3, on Facebook at CaltransDistrict3 or visit the Caltrans District 3 website. For real-time traffic, click on Caltrans' Quickmap or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.
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Balloon markers indicate the location of the new full-color changeable message signs.
Caltrans District 3 | 703 B St, Marysville, CA 95901
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