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MoDOT Removing Variable Speed Limit Signs On I-270

(via Flickr/MoDOT Photos)
These signs on I-270 will be a thing of the past by the end of this month - MoDOT is removing the variable speed limits after five years.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is ending its five-year experiment with variable speed limit signs on Interstate 270.

Crews began removing the 70 digital signs from along the highway Wednesday. The work should be done in about two weeks.

MoDOT installed the signs in 2008as a way to get traffic to slow down if there was congestion ahead. For the first three years, the speed limits they posted were enforceable, but MoDOT made them advisory-only in 2011.

Assistant district engineer Tom Blair says the signs helped reduce slightly the number of crashes along I-270 - but the department was hoping for more.

"A lot of feedback we’ve done through customer surveys has said that they don’t really totally get it," he said. "They have a lot of things on their mind, and a variable speed sign off to the side, first, do I notice it? Second, when I do notice it, do I understand what those engineers at MoDOT are trying to communicate to me?"

Blair said the department will now include announcements about slowing traffic on the digital message boards that also display travel times.

"That allows motorists to look in one place and get travel times and speed ahead messaging all at the same time," he said. "They don’t have to try to draw their attention to 70 little signs."

He says the department will recycle most of the components from the old signs.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.