WEST BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Reversible express lanes on Interstate 595 are less than a year away, and they are the second such project in Florida.
Tampa opened elevated lanes on the Crosstown Expressway seven a years ago
"That's all you got to do right here is just look at it," said Road Ranger Greg Sanchez as he made sure some gates closed and others opened on the expressway.
"With our reversible express lanes, we were able to cut commuter time from about 25 minutes to about 10 minutes," said Sue Chrzan of the Expressway Authority.
The Florida Department of Transportation's I-595 Express Project will create three reversible express lanes between Interstate 75 and Florida's Turnpike.
"We've sought input both from Tampa, from the Crosstown Expressway, and other projects across the United States where they do have a reversible system, looked at what they've done, what has worked and hasn't worked, and tried to incorporate that into our project," said 595 Express Project Director Paul Lampley.
The reversible lanes on I-595 will have flashing signs, breakaway swing arms, and anchored barriers to prevent motorists from going the wrong way. A control center with highway cameras and road rangers will add extra eyes to spot trouble.
"We have not had a major accident since the reversible express lanes opened," said Chrzan.
"You're going to see a very safe roadway system," added Lampley. "We will have full shoulders, we will have three lanes that will get reversed, [and] we will have concrete barrier walls on either side."
In emergency situations, police and fire crews will have access to the roadway through gates that can be opened near Flamingo and Nob Hill Roads and University Drive.
"Those emergency access gates will also allow us to get vehicles out should there be a complete blockage of the system," said Lampley.
While the idea of reversible lanes may be new to South Florida, some drivers have seen them work elsewhere, and are confident they will help commuters here. Paul Guentert drove on them in Chicago.
"Same thing, gates that come down in the morning, gates open in the afternoon," said Guentert. "They also have high occupancy, but I think it's a great idea, reduces traffic."
Later this year, police and fire fighters from Davie, the Broward Sheriff's Office, and Florida Highway Patrol will have training simulations on the express lanes.
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