Students from Lyman High receive a sneak peak of the new message boards.

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Posted: June 3, 2015
Last modified: January 19, 2017

On the side of the road along Interstate 4 (I-4) are portable, electronically lit message boards.

During the Ultimate I-4 project, there may be as many as 35 of the large, wheel-mounted signs that inform drivers of ramp closings, changes in traffic patterns, upcoming construction work, lane shifts, detours, and other assorted messages to help keep motorists safe and informed.

A relatively new software application is allowing a handful of authorized members of the I-4 Ultimate project team to change the 12-by-7-foot message signs via smartphones.

If all 35 signs were in use and each needed to be changed at 35 separate locations throughout the 21-mile project, it could easily take one person several hours to drive to each sign and type in and test new messages using an attached keyboard.

To assign 35 people to go to their nearest sign and type in a new message could cause a major disruption in workflow. Moreover, it could put those workers at risk for injuries along the roadside. And if there were an immediate or emergency need to communicate to drivers, the remotely operated signs offer a fast solution.

“This new system solves all those problems,” said David Feise, the project’s Maintenance of Traffic Manager. “It means less labor and less time that a worker could be exposed to the traffic rushing by.”

The signs also include GPS software that sends an alert if the sign is moved without authorization.