Innovative technology will boost safety on congested highway, says Province

INSTALLATION begins this week on two variable speed limit systems for the Fraser Valley, to help reduce crashes and keep people and goods moving safely and efficiently, the Province announced on Monday.

A new congestion-based speed limit system, the first use of this type of technology for B.C., will be installed on a 24-kilometre section of Highway 1 between Sumas River Bridge in Abbotsford and the Prest Road overpass in Chilliwack.

This is a heavily travelled section of Highway 1 that has a high number of rear-end collisions. The new system will lower the speed limit to slow people down before traffic reaches a stop-and-go situation, helping to reduce the number of collisions that occur when drivers do not notice vehicles that have stopped on the highway.

“People are frustrated with being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on this busy stretch of Highway 1, and crashes during congestion means it takes even longer to get moving again,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We are installing new technology – a first for B.C. – to adjust speeds before a traffic jam develops, which should reduce accidents, as well as traffic delays.”

On Highway 3, between Hope and the Highway 3/5 junction, a road and weather-based variable speed limit system will be installed along this seven-kilometre stretch. Here, the system will collect data, from road surface sensors and traffic sensors, to lower speeds in bad weather, which will help reduce the frequency and severity of weather-related crashes.

The installation of these new systems will begin later this week. The ministry expects them to be operational in summer 2019.

The total cost of implementing new variable speed limit systems on Highways 1 and 3 is estimated at $25 million, which includes the system components, such as electronic signs, electrical cabinets, and traffic and weather sensors. The ministry has awarded an $11.35-million contract to MRC Total Build LP of Langley.


Quick Facts:

  • Traffic on the Highway 1 corridor has grown steadily over the past five years, from an average of 45,500 vehicles per day in 2013, to 53,000 counted in 2017, just west of Vedder Road in Chilliwack.
  • The number of severe collisions on the corridor between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, over the last five years, is approximately 86 per year. (Note: The ministry’s collision information is based on police reported / attended collisions only, and does not include minor collisions that are not reported by police).
  • Other jurisdictions outside of Canada have reported approximately 10% reductions of serious collisions in variable speed limit zones.