Interstate 29 SMART Corridor

Interstate 29 is a critical corridor for the state of North Dakota, the region, and the nation. It travels along North Dakota’s eastern border from Canada at the Pembina/Emerson border crossing through Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota’s biggest urban areas. Currently, I-29 faces mobility and safety issues caused by congestion, crashes, and severe weather events. The corridor experiences crash rates 30 percent higher than statewide averages and 45 percent of those crashes occur during inclement weather conditions. Bolton & Menk is working with NDDOT – including multiple Divisions and Districts – as well as local jurisdictions along I-29 to develop a SMART corridor plan for I-29. The proposed technologies of the SMART corridor aim to improve speed, reliability, and safety for the travelling public without the cost and impact of traditional freeway improvements.

The SMART corridor is focused on Safety, Mobility, Automation, and Realtime Traffic Management through the integration of technology into I-29. The improvements could positively impact more than 150 crashes per year. Numerous technologies will be included in the corridor including

·       Corridor-wide incident surveillance to identify crashes and respond to them more quickly

·       Variable speed limits and ramp metering in and around Fargo and Grand Forks

·       Alternative routing systems in areas with frequent weather-related road closures

·       Targeted improvements like curve warning systems and bridge de-icing systems to address specific safety concerns

·       Freight improvements including truck parking information management systems and virtual weigh stations to improve freight movement across the state

A road with different colored icons for SMART Corridor

A detailed I-29 Smart Corridor map with graphic icons and informationInvestments in Incident Surveillance and Driver Awareness will use cameras, sensors, and dynamic signate to identify issues like crashes and weather, dispatch needed response, and alert drivers of the conditions ahead. In other states, systems like this have cut the time it takes to clear a crash in half, limiting secondary crashes.


Variable Speed Limits will be implemented in areas across and between Fargo and Grand Forks. This system will factor in real-time travel speeds, weather, incidents, special events, and work zone information to continuously update posted speed limits to maintain safe travel speeds. Drivers will be alerted to changing roadway conditions ahead of time to slow their travel speeds and prepare for congested traffic.


Ramp Metering will be implemented on the busiest and most congested on-ramps of I-29 and I-94 in Fargo. By moderating the rate that vehicles enter the interstate system, this system could reduce 75 percent of peak hour delays on the interstate itself, which is consistent with application in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and other locations.

An Alternative Routing System is included between US 81 and ND 17, to redirect traffic when this segment of I-29 is closed due to flooding or other needs. This system can automatically update dynamic signage and guide drivers to safer routes when I-29 is unsafe.

Additional location-specific improvements like Curve Warning Systems, Wrong-Way Running Systems, and Bridge De-icing Systems will also be included at key locations based on crash history. These systems will use tailor-focused approaches to reduce hazards and prevent crashes.

Truck Parking Information Management Systems provide real-time parking availability information to drivers. Vehicle detection at rest areas and truck stops can be relayed to long-haul drivers through dynamic message signs, the ND Roads Map, and navigation systems. By providing drivers with this information, the I-29 corridor will become safer as drivers will know where to park and can forgo parking in unsafe locations or driving throughout the night.

The creation of a SMART corridor will work to better manage the state’s existing network of devices and sensors; expand roadway monitoring and condition reporting to an around the clock, year-long schedule, and streamline the further deployment of advanced technologies. The planning process for the I-29 SMART Corridor has included many organizations, including public leaders, the general public, private technology firms, and freight carriers. These stakeholders have provided insight and feedback that will allow NDDOT and Bolton & Menk to support the wants and needs of the corridor while protecting those who utilize the I-29 corridor.

As published in the North Central Institute of Transportation of Engineers (NCITE) Fall Newsletter.

A principal transportation engineer for Bolton & Menk, Mike Bittner, is a rare hybrid transportation professional who can carry a project from the earliest phases of planning to the most technical phases of construction. He focuses on identifying emerging trends and staying nimble enough to capitalize on these trends. Beginning his career in 2010, his exemplary work, leadership, creativity, and communication skills have been commended regionally and nationally. He has received many awards, presented at a dozen national conferences, and authored three papers on innovative traffic control.

A transportation project manager on the Bolton & Menk team, Andrew Babb began his professional career in 2014. He is an expert in traffic engineering, transportation planning, and city and regional planning, and is responsible for the planning, development, and completion of transportation-focused projects. Andrew’s passion for his work stems from his love for a challenge. Andrew says, “Every decision made about our built environment has reverberating effects on the people and businesses that make up our communities. This complexity ensures that my work in transportation and planning is always engaging and interesting.”

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