Raleigh synching signals to ease traffic flow
Posted December 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh crews are in the final phase of an extensive project to synchronize the city's traffic signals, and they are rolling out live-camera monitoring to keep traffic moving smoothly. Both are important tangential pieces of the even bigger Fortify project which will reduce lanes on Interstate 40 south of downtown over the course of the next three years.
Fortify, a project of the state Department of Transportation, involves repairing pavement on Interstate 40 between the Jones Franklin Road overpass and the exit to Interstate 440/U.S. Highway 64 and on I-440 between I-40/U.S. 64 and just north of U.S. Highway 264.
Drivers in south and east Raleigh and those who commute from Johnston County have already seen delays and traffic diversions as the DOT closes lanes near the I-40/I-440 interchange.
The 2.5-mile section of I-440 that is part of the rebuild is expected to be complete by late 2014. Crews will then move to I-40, with daytime lane closures beginning late in 2014. The entire project should be complete by the fall of 2016, DOT officials said.
While highway lanes are closed, city leaders expect more drivers on the surface streets, and they are looking to make that a more palatable choice.
So far, signal synchronization has saved drivers about $17 million in time and fuel costs, according to Jed Niffenegger, senior transportation engineer.
Allowing drivers to roll through that wave of green lights adds up substantially and accumulates over time to "tremendous savings," he said.
The synced signals largely are automated. But in crunch times, analysts can intervene and help traffic flow smoothly. They monitor intersections with live cameras and intervene when trouble arises – like a left turn lane getting backed up.
"We can make adjustments. They'll be minor, but they will help the main street handle the extra volume, " Niffenegger said.
About 40 percent of Raleigh's lights are optimized. Niffenegger expects even more savings – in time and hassle – for Raleigh drivers once the project is complete.