Cities Adopting Traffic Signal Technology

Ocala, FL, and the state of Florida are teaming up to invest in traffic signal technology to improve traffic flow and cut emissions. Inside, research from the Federal Highway Administration and other reports

What Happened?
The city of Ocala and the Florida Department of Transportation are discussing investment in an intelligent transportation system to improve traffic flow along the State Road 200 and State Road 40 corridors. The joint agreement between city and state would cost $2.4 million and take two years to complete.

The Goal
Thirty-seven intersections throughout Ocala would be equipped with adaptive traffic signal control while another 24 intersections will have different supplementary technology added. Under the proposed joint agreement, the state of Florida will pay $2.39 million for the improvements to the city’s traffic problems, and Ocala will provide the labor of installation through its Public Works Traffic Division.

How It Works
The adaptive traffic signal control can pick up signals from automobiles, read the signals and assign the signal a specific identification code. That identification code will be used by the intelligent transportation system to track the car’s movements throughout the city. Using these signals, the technology will be able to keep track of traffic volumes and patterns in real time. When traffic patterns shift, the traffic signal scheduling can be adjusted to reduce congestion and maintain a steady flow of cars through the community.

Ocala will be able to develop traffic signal timings based on certain volumes. When monitoring traffic patterns, officials will be able to see where motorists drive through most, as a way to measure the travel time through the corridors. If the travel times seem longer than necessary, signal timings should be adjusted for more effective traffic flow. Because the data is provided in real time, the signals will be able to adjust quickly in response to traffic flow almost instantly.

Federal Sign Off
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is encouraging cities and states to invest in adaptive signal control technology to:

  • Distribute green light time equally for all traffic patterns
  • Improve travel time reliability with smart signal timings
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Monitor and adjust traffic signal timing in real time

The FHA argues outdated traffic signal timing can cost the public and private sectors significant money in the long term. More than 10 percent of all traffic delay and congestion is attributed to inefficient traffic signal timing, which means higher fuel consumption, reduced productivity and heightened labor costs. The Texas Transportation Institute estimates $87.2 billion is wasted in fuel and lost productivity each year when traffic is congested.

Research and Markets Ltd. published a new report discussing the intelligent transport systems that are becoming more popular worldwide. The United States, Germany and France have already reported intelligent transport system installations along major highways, while India, China and Indonesia have plans to adopt the technology in the near future.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration offers cities and states with tools, training resources and other support to help get their intelligent transport systems up and running smoothly. The administration focuses on joint programs that leverage resources from local, state and federal agencies.

Smart Roads
EfficientGov has stayed abreast of the latest transportation plans across the country, many of which focus on both short-term improvements and long-term sustainability.

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Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is the founder of EfficientGov.com.