Lawmaker wants electronic signs on I-75

Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, says he will file amendment for safer highway


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A state lawmaker wants to make sure another deadly chain-reaction crash like last week's Interstate 75 pileup in Alachua County doesn't happen again.
Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, announced Tuesday he will file an amendment to a transportation bill that would fund electronic message boards over I-75 near the intersection with U.S. 441 -- near the stretch of interstate where 11 people died Jan. 29 in a multi-vehicle pileup on the smoke-shrouded highway.

Dozens of similar signs are up on interstate highways in metropolitan areas that warn about traffic problems and Amber Alerts or Silver Alerts.

Perry said there aren't any near Gainesville and they could have warned drivers about the thick fog and smoke that caused the deadly pileup.

"We owe it to our families, we owe it to our communities, we owe it to the literally millions of our of state visitors that travel the interstate on a day to day basis," Perry said.
Eventually, he hopes to add traffic cameras along that stretch of the interstate similar to the 500 cameras on other Florida highways.

Perry is also pushing for better meteorology equipment. He said road signs are ineffective, considering the fog and smoke covered the interstate in the middle of the night as motorists were driving 70 mph.

Perry wants his fellow state lawmakers to re-examine the guidelines that transportation officials use in determining whether to shut down an interstate, which is called the low visibility occurrence risk index.

Under that index, fog and smoke must be rated a 7 to close the road. On the morning of the I-75 crash, the index registered a 6, meaning it was safe enough to keep open.