Mendocino Man Wins 1/3 of $25K After Three Way Tie in Caltrans’ Contest
A Mendocino man has won a share of $25,000 in the Caltrans Innovation Contest. Mark H. Akin of Redwood Valley submitted the same idea as two other winners. They all suggested that freeway signs give information earlier on what lane a motorist should be in at freeway entrances.
Information from Caltrans Distric 1’s Facebook page:
Big Congratulations to Mark H Akin of Redwood Valley in Mendocino County! He is one of the 1st place winners of the Caltrans $25K find a new way innovation contest for submitting his idea of Advanced Directional Signs! (Photo below)
Mark is not the only winner… There are two other first place winners… Jordan Safine of Alamo and Ellen Atkins of Orange— These winners were chosen from more than 600 eligible entries for their idea to have freeway signs indicate earlier which lane will lead to which freeway direction. By improving the advance information signs when approaching a freeway entrance and better indicating which lane—left or right—a motorist should be in, this idea can prevent last-minute lane changes, reducing gridlock, and make it easier for those unfamiliar with an area to plan ahead.
Caltrans will implement this idea by developing statewide maintenance guidelines to include clear indication of proper lane assignment at every freeway onramp (as demonstrated in the image mockups to the right.) This effort will get a jump start to rapid deployment as Caltrans will incorporate it into the department’s current sign replacement effort to install highly reflective signs to enhance visibility and reduce electricity and maintenance costs. The cost of implementation is expected to be absorbable within the existing sign-replacement program.
Caltrans will also award $4,000 to second place winner Anita Weaver of Glendale for her entry the “Caltrans Freeway League,” (CFL) an online travel app concept that would encourage Californians to voluntarily monitor and modify their behavior to achieve safer and less congested commuting.
The CFL challenges Caltrans to develop an app in which participants score points for safe driving behavior, rewarding points when drivers shift travel modes, drive during off-peak hours or choose actions that align with department goals of safety and sustainability—a “fitbit” or sorts, but for commuting. The app would combine drivers’ shared responsibility with personal actions with the concept that Californians themselves can make transportation better.
Caltrans plans to explore partnerships with technology firms that are developing or that already provide travel-information apps. A data collection app such as the CFL would also provide valuable driver behavior and travel demand information so Caltrans can better target resources for reducing traffic congestion.