Raleigh synching signals to ease traffic flow

Posted December 25, 2013

— 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.


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  • WRAL_USER Dec 27, 2013

    Anyone reading this can see the DOT handiwork for themselves. I do not trust the NCDOT to do anything correctly. Take a look at the traffic cams of our new toll roads (here on compared to ANY other cam and you can see the NCDOT incompetence. Check it any time but rush hours are the best for comparison. No one uses the toll roads and never will. More examples of NCDOT complete wast and incompetence... NCDOT- TOUCH NOTHING! You have simply proven to be nothing but a hinderance. Clean house in the NCDOT, how can we do worse...?

  • WRAL_USER Dec 27, 2013

    I would LOVE to see the "17 million dollar savings" calculations... Is that a public record anywhere? Has anyone (looking at you WRAL...) actually seen this? I call the DOT out on that figure...

  • WRAL_USER Dec 27, 2013

    Timing the lights is a great idea... finding ANYONE who can actually do it properly is IMPOSSIBLE in the NCDOT. How many "tests" has Ral done and have failed miserably? ALL OF THEM! Thanks NCDOT for wasting more money on something that you are too incompetent to complete correctly! Clean house at the NCDOT... We really can't do worse with a fresh crop anyway... Why not?

  • HankScorpio Dec 27, 2013

    I read about this project awhile back and was excited to have the lights timed better, but the only place I've noticed a difference is on Capital between 440 and and the 401 split. PanthersFan45 is right - later at night the lights are triggered by cars pulling up from side streets so it's completely random. I hope they make more improvements because most other areas in N Raleigh are not timed well.

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Dec 26, 2013

    And the reason LEFT TURN LANES get backed up, is because that light is 2.1 seconds long! I've been in plenty of these turn lane situations - as we all have, and in my experience, the green light is entirely too short - causing horrible lane congestion, that ends up snaking way down the road - to the straight lane, thus causing THAT to back up! LOL! I remember several years back, a left turn light on Capital and Trawick messed up! It was malfunctioning. It was usually 12 seconds long - my count! This day, it was 2 seconds! I knew something was wrong, so I called to let them know it was not working right - 2 seconds long and was backing up, horribly, on Capital. Additionally, people were (understandably) running the light! Turns out: NOT a malfunction! They had changed the timing on that light and let me tell you something, that was a huge mistake! Two seconds on green?? In the end, they fixed it BACK, to more than 12 seconds long and it was better than before! :-)

  • caryzoo Dec 26, 2013

    I travel from Cary Towne Blvd. to 40 West, off at Blue Ridge, minimum..MINIMUM 2 minute wait at Blue Ridge East. No traffic on Blue Ridge, just waiting for the light to time out. I have seen so, SO many people4 going left at this red light when there is NO traffic, I kinda laugh at law enforcement and the efforts of Raleigh trying to time their lights.

    It is a joke, within 2-3 seconds (I've timed it) of the light turning green from Wade East bound to Blue Ridge North. The light from Wade West bound turns red from Wade to Blue ridge going left. TIMING? These folks in Raleigh do not have a clue.
    I have watched dozens going left on red here because there is NO traffic in either direction. I come from Cary, a much smaller municipality, we have much more astute and observant folks than Raleigh can pull together.
    Raleigh can pull it together, I have no doubt at all. Do they WANT to?
    The whole Wade, Blue Ridge intersection is so far off the grid for normal, it is laughable.

  • mafiamic Dec 26, 2013

    I recall awhile back someone had made a comment about this when Raliegh or Chapel hill was having traffic problems and people stopping at every light and how one light would go green but when approaching the next light it would change red and the cars would be backed up.?
    This is how all cities should be for I have thought about it as well,the green lights should start ahead of you Say 3 or 4 lights ahead go green the traffic moves then 15 20 seconds the next light goes green and so on,then when it is time the light ahead turns red,then after a few seconds the next light and so on then the streets crossing go green or red depending on the lights.
    The triangle has had a major problem with traffic flow for years and many drivers either drive too slow or are lost and messes it up and you get angry drivers.This way it should ease many drivers headaches.

  • blytle Dec 26, 2013

    I don't know where they have syncronized yet, but I have not seen any evidence of this. Raleigh traffic is a nightmare!

  • PanthersFan45 Dec 26, 2013

    "Raleigh crews are in the final phase of an extensive project to synchronize the city's traffic signals"

    I heard alot about synchronizing Capital Boulevard to the I-440 beltline but it must only apply to the afternoon hours. I would challenge anyone to drive down this road between 6:30-7:30AM and watch how many lights change when (1) random motorist drives up from a side street to enter. You will see 4 lanes of traffic stop and that (1) motorist get a light change ..... something must trigger that. Synchronizing must only apply to certain times of the day.