Innovative ‘dust bowl detection’ technology operating on Arizona I-10

New technology added along I-10 in Arizona will be able to warn drivers of hazardous driving conditions when a dust storm hits.

The Arizona Department of Transportation announced that new visibility detectors, weather radar systems, variable speed limit signs and closed-circuit cameras are operating along 10 miles of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson. They are functioning as a cutting edge ‘dust bowl detection’ system developed by the ADOT.

The project is funded by a $54 million federal FASTLANE grant for I-10 projects.

Between mileposts 209 and 219, drivers will notice new reduced speed limits and other warning signs during dangerous conditions. Programmable speed limit signs are placed 1,000 ft apart along the highway. They can be set to speed limits 35-75 mph depending on weather and safety conditions. Other variable speed limit signs are placed every 2 miles.

The dust detection system is supported by 13 short-range visibility sensors positioned along the highway. They use light beams to gauge the density of dust particles in the air, activating overhead message board warnings and the variable speed limit signs when visibility drops to a certain level.

A long range weather radar on a 20-foot tower also provides real-time information for the dust bowl detection system. The radar provides warning of storms more than 40 miles away.

The system recently began operating along with ADOT’s current slogan ‘Pull Aside, Stay Alive.’ Working together to inform and warn all drivers to practice the proper procedures and safety precautions during a dust storm.