October 21, 2021

Caltrans is hoping traffic on Highway 99 will flow differently and more safely in the near future. In early November 2021 Caltrans will install 10 “Variable Speed Advisory” signs on Northbound 99 between Elk Grove Blvd and the Highway 50 interchange. “Beginning November 1 motorists will see VSA signs displaying advisory speeds that will change based on traffic conditions along the corridor,” Caltrans wrote in a news release Tuesday. “These signs will be operational during the weekday morning commute times

The pilot project is scheduled to last months. Caltrans is collecting the data to see if it “helps reduce stop-and-go traffic during high congestion travel times.” The state transportation agency says its other goals are the reduction of rear-end type collisions and to decrease vehicle emissions. The speed limit on Highway 99 is 65 mph for the majority of the stretch between Elk Grove Boulevard and Highway 50. In a sample diagram, Caltrans showed the advisory signs displaying speeds as slow as 35 mph.

Advisory speeds are recommendations and they will not be enforced by California Highway Patrol. That means a driver “may not be cited solely for exceeding the posted value of an advisory speed sign,” according to the Caltrans speed limit manual. However, advisory speeds could be a contributing factor in a driver being cited for violating the basic speed law, which says one should never drive faster than is safe for given road conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.

Highway 99 is known as one of the most dangerous freeways in the U.S., with multiple studies in recent years labeling it the deadliest roadway in America. In July, a Caltrans subcontractor was struck and killed in a hit-and-run on northbound Highway 99 near the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard exit, part of the stretch that will soon add advisory signs.

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