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'Obsolete' Traffic Lights to Get Overhaul in Chapel Hill, Carborro

Posted September 17, 2007

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— Drivers complain that traffic lights in Chapel Hill and Carborro are outdated and out-of-sync, but an overhaul by the state will give the two towns state-of-the-art signal systems.

All 112 traffic lights in the two towns will be overhauled, replaced and hooked into a central computer system in a five-year, $5 million upgrade.

The towns' signal systems haven't received any major work in about 15 years, leaving them "functionally obsolete," Department of Transportation engineer Greg Fuller said.

"I think it's about time they did it," driver Halimat Alli-Balogun said. "I mean, it's kind of difficult if you're coming to a stoplight and you're sitting there for five or 10 minutes, because, I believe, there's sensors.

"So I think it's about time they actually changed the system," she added.

Forty miles of fiber-optic cable will be laid to bring all the traffic lights into a central computer bank that will synchronize the lights. State traffic engineers said that system will help keep traffic moving during major events, including Tar Heels basketball games at the Dean Smith Center.

"The system will have the capability so you can do timing plans and bring people into the coliseum, and then when the game's over, we can implement a new timing plan and flush them out," Fuller said.

Engineers will spend two years designing the system, which will take another three years to install. The new system should be in place by January 2012.

The price tag will be split among the state, Chapel Hill, Carborro and the federal government.

Elsewhere in central North Carolina, DOT crews are working on upgrades to Raleigh's traffic lights, and engineers will soon design a new light system for Rocky Mount.

10 Comments

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  • rc4nc Sep 18, 2007

    Don't forget the cameras for the revenue collections.

  • pleshy Sep 18, 2007

    But wait, do they run on electricity?!? Not in Carrboro?! Surely I would have thought the automobile and the use of electricity creatd by the burning of fossil fuels was illegal in Carrboro. I am mortified at the very thought.

  • JohnnyMalaria Sep 18, 2007

    "Drivers complain that traffic lights in Chapel Hill and Carborro are outdated and out-of-sync"

    And the rest of the Triangle, too.

    Why not just do away with many of them and use roundabouts and/or yield signs (not stop signs)?

    The number of times you pull away from a green light only to get a red at the next set that, in turn, turns green the very moment you come to a complete stop. Think about how much gas is wasted doing that.

  • ohmygosh Sep 18, 2007

    A little outside of the box thinking could put this fiber to use for other things than just traffic lights.

    $5 million for traffic lights boggles the mind. We have one.

  • jahausa Sep 18, 2007

    I thought the sensors were designed to turn lights when there's no traffic? Why would they make you wait if there's no traffic? Or are they broken? I grew up elsewhere, and we didn't have these sensors, so we just drove on through at night...

  • Tarheeljunior Sep 17, 2007

    Seriously, ten minutes at a light with no traffic in sight and I would have run it after two or three. Stop lights are annoying, but 5-10 minutes wait isn't realistic.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Sep 17, 2007

    ""I think it's about time they did it," driver Halimat Alli-Balogun said. "I mean, it's kind of difficult if you're coming to a stoplight and you're sitting there for five or 10 minutes, because, I believe, there's sensors."

    People always over-estimate how long they sit at lights. Five or ten minutes!?!??! Maybe two or three minutes for the longer ones.

  • oldrebel Sep 17, 2007

    I love it. Drivers actually complaining about "sensors" and how long they have to sit sometimes waiting for a green light. LOL. Ride a bike or motorcycle and see how long you have to sit sometimes. Does a particular Eagles cd title give you a clue?

  • NC to GA Sep 17, 2007

    It's too late! I've already moved away!!!

    Seriously... I remember about 15 years ago they hung new LED traffic lights all over town (I used to be a regular caller to the town traffic engineer) and he told me they were putting up new lights to get them tied into a computer system.

    They have actually had the ability to "log into" the lights to make timing changes since that time, but never seemed to to, or perhaps have the ability to, sync the lights.

    It's about time, but 20 years total? I can't decide if that is ridiculous or appropriate :-|

  • bornbredtarheel Sep 17, 2007

    Its about time!! I know of a few that *definitely* need to be fixed asap.