A coalition that includes six states is starting this month a new project, the aim of which is to cut down on congestion and truck accidents on I-81.
Public officials and contractors will analyze freight movement along 850 miles of the interstate. Meanwhile, the I-81 Corridor Coalition will come up with a system that connects truckers with traffic related information.
When the project is completed, organizers say that the system will compile real time data from several sources and use that data to tell truckers how to drive routes more efficiently during emergencies. The information also will be used to get trucks off the highways at certain times and to get goods to merchants faster.
Truck drivers are allowed to drive only for 11 hours, so it is not logical for them to be sitting in traffic if a major accident is backing up I-81 traffic.
The new system would tell truckers when an accident or bad weather is coming up. It also would connect drivers with different routes and provide them with real time data about where they can park and sleep, which would get them off the road. The study will also look at the best way to relay that information to truck drivers. The information could be relayed with a smartphone application or with signs on the interstate.
Big rig freight trucks are about 20% of all the traffic on I-81, with about 11,000 trucks coming through cities along the road each day. The interstate is increasingly a big freight and truck route that is used as an alternate for I-95.
There also is discussion of adding lanes to the highway, but this would cost $100 million or more. If the Coalition is successful, congestion could be lessened and safety improved, without spending a great deal of taxpayer money.