New ‘SmartLane’ on I-275 is open: Here’s how it works

SHARONVILLE — The Ohio Dept. of Transportation has opened a “SmartLane” along Interstate 275 West between Loveland-Madeira Road and Reed Hartman Highway.

The lane, designed to alleviate congestion at peak traffic hours, opened Monday. The more-than $22 million project widened the median shoulder in that area.

“There is a link between changes in congestion and changes in the safety performance of a roadway when part-time shoulder use is in operation,” ODOT said in reference to a Federal Highway Administration report on the use of freeway shoulders for travel.

ODOT released the guidelines on how the SmartLane works:

  • Staff in ODOT’s Traffic Management Center will monitor traffic, and if traffic speeds fall below 55-mph, operators may open the SmartLane by changing the Digital Message Signs (DMS) and implementing a variable speed limit (VSL).
  • Lane indicators on the DMS will be used to alert motorists if the SmartLane is open (green arrow), closed (red “X”) or starting to close (yellow “X”).
  • Most typically, the SmartLane will be open during rush hours, from approximately 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays, and the speed within this section of the interstate will be reduced to 55-mph.
  • Operators will continue to monitor traffic speeds throughout the rush-hour period and further reduce the VSL as needed. Any additional speed limit reductions will be made in 10-mph increments with a minimum of 60 seconds (one minute) given between each change.
  • During normal (non-rush) hours, the left shoulder will remain closed, and the posted speed limit of 65-mph will remain in effect.
  • The SmartLane can also be used during emergency situations, such as a crash, or scheduled construction and maintenance activities to facilitate traffic flow.

“This innovative design solution and accompanying technology for SmartLanes will help mitigate safety risks on the interstate,” ODOT said.

Another SmartLane is in the works for Eastbound I-275 between U.S. 42 and Ohio 28. It is scheduled for completion by 2028 and has an estimated cost of $69.5 million.

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