First phase nearly complete of Raleigh traffic light overhaul

Posted March 21, 2011 1:44 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2011 5:56 p.m. EDT

— The first phase of a $28 million project to synchronize Raleigh’s traffic lights is expected to be complete by the fall, city officials said Monday.

The project began four years ago to overhaul the city’s traffic signal system.

“It’s essentially every signal in the city limits. The old system had 520 signals. This will have about 600,” Raleigh traffic engineer Mike Kennon said.

The city has been divided into quadrants. The first phase covers northeast Raleigh, including Capital Boulevard.

Driver Amy Lineberry fights congestion on Capital Boulevard every morning. She said it takes her 20 and 30 minutes to get to work, depending on traffic lights.

“Normally in the morning, you sit through two light changes,” Lineberry said.

The second phase of the project, which covers the southwest portion of the city, is expected to be completed by early next year.

The rest of Raleigh’s lights will be synchronized by fall 2013.

As part of the project, the city is replacing all old traffic signals with energy-saving LEDs.

City engineers said synchronizing the signals will probably save the average driver only a few seconds on his or her commute. The effects, however, will add up.

“It’s going to mean better air quality, less emissions,” Kennon said.

Drivers might also save money on gas, he said.

Lineberry isn't sure how much time or money the synchronized lights will save her, but she's says it's a change for the better.

“If it does reduce the amount of traffic sitting there, that's a smaller carbon footprint, which would help Raleigh,” she said.