Lawmaker seeks green light on traffic signal bill

Posted February 25, 2009 4:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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."