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Georgia eliminating Atlantas variable speed limit signs

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(The Center Square) — Georgia officials are paying more than $400,000 to remove 167 variable speed limit signs in metro Atlanta.

Georgia transportation officials approved the plan for the signs on Interstate 285 in 2012 and subsequently started introducing them along the interstate’s northern portion, according to various media reports from the time. However, reports suggest that the system wasn’t activated until about October 2014.

At the time, GDOT said the 36-mile-long “top end” of I-285, known locally as the Perimeter, carried an average of 50,000 more vehicles than the interstate’s southside. It also had double the number of interchanges.

While the signs allowed officials to change the interstate’s speed limit depending on variables such as congestion, state officials opted to remove them, admitting the signs had many problems over the years. Signs routinely didn’t display the correct speed — or sometimes any speed limit information — and drivers often ignored the displayed speed limits.

“We are replacing them with what we would call static speed limits,” John Hibbard, director of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Operations Division, told The Center Square.

While GDOT officials could not confirm how much the state paid to install the signs, which the agency a decade ago called “low-cost, cutting edge technology,” reports indicate it surpassed $4 million. However, reports of problems with the signs emerged by 2015, prompting transportation officials to upgrade them in 2016.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, states have used the variable speed limit signs for various purposes, ranging from congestion to work zones to weather.