AUSTIN, Texas — State Highway 45 SW opens this weekend in Travis and Hays County. The toll road will stretch from FM 1626 to MoPac.
The road will have new technology to help avoid wrong-way crashes. It’s the first of its kind in Texas, according to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, or CTRMA.
“Everywhere from San Antonio to Austin, we're seeing ever more incidents of wrong-way driving,” said Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Mobility Authority.
CTRMA reports these crashes are more likely to result in a fatality than other wrecks.
“We want to be able to alert people as quickly as possible,” said Heiligenstein.
The new system does that by using heat sensors at four different locations along the highway to detect a wrong-way car.
That information is transmitted wirelessly to cars with connected vehicle technology.
If drivers do not have that technology, there's still help.
“The only difference is that you don't have a connected vehicle, you're just not getting the in-vehicle alerts,” said Steve Paulus, with TAPCO, the provider of the intelligent warning system. “The alerts on the side of the road still flash.”
A wrong-way alert is also transmitted to the wrong-way driver, telling them to stop. An alert is also sent to police.
“We’re not waiting for an incident to happen and regroup and decide what we should have done,” said Mike Heiligenstein. “We're doing that up front."
The mobility authority said it plans on installing this new system on US 183 South as well, once it opens.
For now, SH 45 SW is the only highway in Austin with the wrong-way sensors. The highway is supposed to open this Saturday – weather permitting.
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