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Oregon Department of Transportation: New I-5 Siskiyou Summit signs keep travelers safe, regulate speeds

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Northbound trucks on Interstate 5 pass one of six new variable message, speed signs in test mode south of Ashland.

December 15, 2022

For more information, contact Gary Leaming, 541-621-3074

ASHLAND –Six new electronic message signs on northbound Interstate 5 will help keep travelers informed on changing conditions and help regulate speeds on the highest summit on the Interstate 5 corridor.

The signs are located between the Oregon-California border and Ashland, and will be live by January 1, 2023.

Three of the six new signs can show drivers a legally-enforceable lower speed limit. Computers will automatically adjust speed limits displayed on the electronic, black-on-white speed signs based on weather and pavement conditions on the summit. The computers gather information from sensors that can measure factors like road surface traction, humidity, air temperature and visibility.

When conditions improve, speed limits will be automatically raised again.

“Drivers going too fast for the changing conditions often get surprised on the Siskiyou Summit,” said ODOT District Manager Jeremiah Griffin. “High speeds frequently lead to crashes and delays, no matter what time of year. These new variable speed signs will be an important safety tool.”

Data from the Federal Highway Administration shows variable speed limits reduce the number and severity of crashes, especially during bad weather.

The variable speed limit signs are regulatory, meaning Oregon State Police can ticket drivers for going over the displayed speed limit. The new electronic signs will replace the existing static speed limit signs, to avoid confusion.

In addition to the three variable speed signs, there are two dynamic “curve warning” signs. They show drivers their speed as they approach two sharp curves near the Mt Ashland exit and a railroad trestle. The electronic curve warming signs are similar to ones on I-5 at the Myrtle Creek curves.

The sixth new sign, a variable electronic message sign at the summit, will be used to update drivers on conditions or hazards ahead. They’ll also help inform ODOT staff and emergency responders about such incidents.

Travelers can also use tripcheck.com for the latest road conditions.

The new signs were installed as part of the recent $35 million interstate improvements project between the California border and Ashland.

Editors/Producers: photos and videos, including sound bites on this story can be found on Dropbox.

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