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Lane Lights Mean The 110 Freeway Goes Both Ways

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Surely you have noticed the cool new blue lane lights on the 110 Freeway delineating the transition lane to the 5 North (see a video embedded below). The lighted pavement markers, or Smart-stud systems, are a way to finally stop all of those jerks from sneaking into the front of the line when we have all been waiting patiently in line for the 5 North like good citizens. Plus they make your night-time drive more psychedelic, like you are at the laserium.

According to Inside Seven, the Caltrans newsletter, the plan is to make lane 2 a lane that can be used two ways, what they call a "dynamic" lane.

As part of this system, lighted pavement markers, or Smart-stud systems, will be used to guide and enforce the use of lane Number 2 as an optional lane. The Smart-studs will be placed between lane Number 1 and lane Number 2 as delineators. During peak hours, the lighted pavement markers will be turned off, thus allowing motorists to use lane Number 2 as an optional lane for northbound SR-110 mainline or to the northbound I-5 connector.
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So when the lights are off, you can either stay in the number 2 lane and continue North on the 110 or connect to the 5 North. According to Judy Gish of Caltrans in a recent phone interview, they will be extending the number 2 lane so that it goes around the curve. There will now be 2 connector lanes to the 5 North. There is enough room to add the second lane without having to widen the freeway, which would be structurally unsound. And it would suck, because that spiral cement staircase is so badass.

During all other hours, lighted pavement markers will be turned on displaying a continuous light between lane Number 1 and lane Number 2. Near the connector, the lighted pavement markers are installed so closely that, when lighted, they will mimic a solid white line...

Meaning when the lights are on, people can only use the number 2 lane to continue North on the 110; they cannot use it as a connector lane.

The article doesn't differentiate the meaning of the single row of lane lights versus the double lines. We received clarification in an interview with Senior Transportation Engineer Sheik Moinuddin of the Traffic Investigations Office. The single row of lane lights is to warn the driver that the lights are lit, and to give them time to change lanes accordingly before it is too late. The double row of lights functions as a meridian and means, "Really, Don't cross here, we mean it."

The project is still in progress. In its final phase, the number two lane will be extended around the curve with the use of painted lines. There will also be additional signage, including electric message signs, to clear up any confusion. So far there is only one visible sign, before the last tunnel, where the lines are doubled, warning you not to cross lanes when the lane lights are on.

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The project is expected to be completed in December.

So anyways, I am totally enamored with these lights. Are they going to be all over Los Angeles freeways? Do they come in lots of fun mix and match colors? Can I pay to have my name spelled out in them on the 405? Let's quote the newsletter as it quotes Sheik Moinuddin.

Smart-stud is a road marker guidance system that is highly visible in any weather or roadway condition. Each Smart-stud is lit with ten or 20 high-intensity LED lights, visible from up to 500 meters away. “Smart-studs are inductively powered and therefore have no direct wire connections,” Moinuddin said. “They are cost effective to install and run, as well as highly durable even in the heaviest traffic conditions.”

Enjoy the pretty lights...

Photo and video by Elise Thompson for LAist