Lawmaker seeks green light on traffic signal bill

Posted February 25, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Improperly timed traffic lights have one lawmaker seeing red so much that he wants to require all municipalities across North Carolina to synchronize their signals.

"It is a no-brainer, so I don't know why they're not doing it," said Cary Allred, R-Alamance.

Red light, traffic light, traffic signal Bill would require synchronized signals

Allred said he wants to reduce the time drivers spend idling at red lights as much as possible to cut gas consumption.

Raleigh has been working for several years on a citywide program to reset the timing on its traffic signals. The project was supposed to be completed this year, but officials said Wednesday they expect to start work in April and be done in 2011.

"It will be a fiber-optic, real-time system. So, if people are backed up in one direction but not another, then the system should recognize that and turn the green light more on that area," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Meeker blamed the project's delay on funding issues. The city plans to use road bond money and federal grants to finance the $28 million system.

He said he disagreed with Allred's bill, saying many cities and towns couldn't afford the expense of synchronizing traffic lights.

"It would make sense for the state to require all major cities to do it if the state would help finance it," he said. "I mean, to put that burden on a city without any help, particularly when the state has the gas tax, wouldn't be fair."

Allred said he believes cities should share the cost with the state Department of Transportation.

Driver George Bulgin said he can't wait for the timing of the traffic lights on Capital Boulevard to be reset.

"If you're at one traffic light, once that one changes, the next one is turning red. So, you speed up, and you slow back down, and you speed up, and you slow back down," Bulgin said. "As far as helping passengers or travelers get through (Capital Boulevard) a lot quicker, it would be, I think, a good benefit for all of us who are driving."


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  • rc4nc Feb 26, 2009

    Well, if they improved the signal timing that would cut into their red light camera profits. Is it my imagination or did Raleigh recently remove a red light camera at the intersection of Millbrook and Capitol Blvd? I usually boycott the red light camera areas, but happened to go through there recently. I was just passing through, will be a while before I stop and spend any money there.

  • killerkestrel Feb 26, 2009

    In many places the traffic signals are too close together to get progression working nicely. Yeah, it will help a little, but only so much.

    Long signal cycle times help get more people through a signal, but then you have long waits when people stop for red. Problem is, this is the only solution at many high traffic intersections. But this then nearby signals when you try to set up progression. It is one very big and ugly puzzle.

  • Feb 26, 2009

    Wonder if anyone has done a reasonable cost/benefits analysis? It's great and wonderful to conserve gas as much as possible, and it would certainly make for a much more pleasant commute to or from work not to have to speed up and stop, speed up and stop about every 100 yards through some areas as someone else has already mentioned, but how cost effective would it really be?

    I would also like to see the legislature consider turning left on red at certain one way intersections. Wonder how much gas that would save with virtually no cost to taxpayers?

  • Bendal1 Feb 26, 2009

    This isn't something that can be done cheaply, especially in small towns. Signals are timed individually, linking them together requires lots of wiring (sometimes expensive fiber optic) and a computer to coordinate them all together. Small towns and even medium sized ones don't have the money or manpower to do this, and large cities have a HUGE number of signals to link into a system like this.

    It's not like you can run a simple copper wire between signals and say "voila, they will all work fine now", after all. It costs money to set it up, a location to put the computer, and personnel to operate it/make sure it works properly.

  • 5Rs Feb 25, 2009

    It doesn't take high-tech to fix some of the "forever" lights. For instance, Spring Forest and Sandy Forks, Spring Forest and Falls of Neuse anytime except rush hour. It doesn't take high-tech to have some of the lights take advantage of their left turn arrows at all times, either, particularly Falls of Neuse southbound turning left onto Harps Mill. That is the scene of too many accidents.

  • whatusay Feb 25, 2009

    I thought all large cities were already doing this?

  • montagcat Feb 25, 2009

    Two bad ones: 1.)driving west on Perry Creek, trying to turn on Capitol AND 2.)turning left onto Wake Forest from Six Forks, trying to get to the 440 belt line. Three lights within 200 yards, none of them synchronized.

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 25, 2009

    Maybe they could invest some of the money they harvested from their recent "Write a basket full of tickets" exercise?

  • Fx432 Feb 25, 2009

    What happened to all the money we threw at light synchronization a few years ago in Raleigh/Wake Co, anyone remember ?

  • teacher-mom Feb 25, 2009

    Finally, someone is doing something that makes sense.