When it comes to managing roadway work zones, there are two main priorities: protecting workers and motorists, and reducing traffic congestion as much as possible. One of the most innovative new technologies helping contractors and DOTs meet these challenges is the dynamic zipper merge system. Keep reading to learn more about these systems, how they operate, and where they work best.
What Is a Dynamic Zipper Merge System?
Using speed sensors set up along the side of the highway, the dynamic zipper merge gathers information on traffic congestion, then transmits that information to message signs. These changeable message signs alert drivers on traffic patterns as they approach a work zone, miles before they must merge into a single lane.
As evident in their name, dynamic zipper merge systems are designed to work like a zipper: In free flow traffic, message signs will instruct drivers to merge early. In slowed or stopped traffic, message signs will instruct drivers to “Use Both Lanes/To Merge Point.” By utilizing both lanes to the merge point, it will reduce the queue length. At the entrance of the work zone, they will instruct drivers to “Merge Here/Take Turns.” Taking turns at the merge point creates smoother merging conditions for drivers, reducing traffic backups and merge time. Dynamic zipper merge systems also help reduce friction between drivers who prefer to merge early, and those who prefer to use open lanes for as long as possible.
Where Are Dynamic Zipper Merge Systems Used?
Dynamic zipper merge systems are installed in interstate highway work zones. They are typically used when a project requires long-term lane reductions for road reconstruction. Many state DOTs have deployed them along interstates to reduce backup times and protect their workers.
While the dynamic zipper merge is undoubtedly one of the most innovative traffic technologies to come out in recent years, it’s important to note that it doesn’t work for every work zone. Due to the rather arduous process of setting up sensors along the highway, these systems are best suited for highways with travel lane reductions that are expected to last months and cause significant traffic delays.
About Carolina Traffic Devices
At Carolina Traffic Devices, we offer a range of technologies to help contractors and DOTs keep our country’s roadways efficient and safe for everyone. We have an ample selection of traffic solutions to suit any area and traffic speed. To learn more about our products, visit www.carolinatraffic.com, or contact us today for assistance on your next construction project.