State receives 2 federal grants for work zone safety innovation

Gov. Tony Evers, together with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), announced the state received two federal grants to develop innovations to enhance work zone safety in Wisconsin.

WisDOT, in collaboration with the Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma Departments of Transportation, will advance transportation safety by developing technology for a prototype autonomous truck-mounted attenuator (ATMA) to shield maintenance and construction workers from errant drivers. The ATMA is a crash cushion attached to the rear of a vehicle to absorb the impact of a crash. This project will receive over $1.8 million from the grant.

Wisconsin will also receive $250,000 to extend the Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) to the local road network using smart work zone devices. WZDx incorporates real-time information on road conditions, such as lane closures in work zones, and shares the data through the 511 Wisconsin Traveler Information System at and via the mobile app. WisDOT already tracks 12,000 scheduled work zone events annually on Wisconsin state highways, but the WZDx data feed currently does not include work zones on the local road network.

This funding will help WisDOT purchase additional smart zone devices, such as connected arrow boards or connected location markers. Successful testing of these devices could have potential benefits to expand work zone data statewide. Real-time traffic information can help human drivers and automated driving systems (ADS) navigate more safely and efficiently through work zones across Wisconsin.