SEATTLE - Washington highways are getting a new look Today as the first part of the smarter highway system goes live on northbound Interstate 5 in south Seattle at 11 a.m.
Drivers will see varying speed limits, alerts or even blank signs, depending on traffic conditions. Electronic signs will display traffic alerts and information, such as backups, incidents ahead and alternate route suggestions.
A red X overhead means the lane is closed. A green arrow means the lane is open. Arrows pointing to one corner or another means to merge either to the right or left. And if there are two arrows, it means you can merge either way.
The smart signs will also tell drivers about collisions or construction work, and will post the revised speed that's allowed if it differs from what is normally posted. It's all an effort to keep traffic moving, but realize if you don't follow the posted directions, you'll end up getting stopped.
The signs will be activated on the stretch of northbound I-5 between Boeing Access Road and I-90. Later this year, they'll be switched on along 520, and in the spring, they'll debut on I-90.
The Washington State Dept. of Transportation and State Patrol suggest drivers take a few minutes to learn how to read the signs. You can visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/smarterhighways/ for a tutorial.