Georgia motorists reap benefits of advanced signal timing

DOT receives ITS America Smart Solution Spotlight award for efforts

News ITS America October 21, 2010
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The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was recognized on Oct. 21 by the nation’s largest transportation technology organization for its use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to save Atlanta commuters and businesses time and fuel costs by reducing delays along major traffic corridors.

Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance Smith was presented with the ITS America Smart Solution Spotlight award during the State Transportation Board meeting in recognition of GDOT’s Regional Traffic Operations Program (RTOP), which is tackling the region’s most congested corridors by installing new technology that improves traffic-signal operation to benefit all users of the intersection including cars, trucks, pedestrians and buses.

According to ITS America Executive Vice President Tom Kern, the traffic-signal project “demonstrates how public agencies can leverage technology to cost-effectively reduce delays and optimize system efficiency, which in turn will save commuters time and money, improve on-time delivery for area businesses, cut down on CO2 emissions and prevent crashes caused by stop-and-go traffic.”

“ITS is a critical component in our efforts to operate our system at its most effective level,” Smith said. “To have that effort recognized by ITS America is very gratifying and a tribute to the department employees working with this technology.”

Studies show that poor signal timing accounts for 5-10% of all traffic delays, which have been calculated to cost Americans more than $87 billion annually in wasted time and fuel according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2009 Urban Mobility Report. While the average rush-hour commuter spends nearly a full work week stuck in traffic each year, the report ranked Atlanta third in the nation (behind L.A.-Long Beach and Washington, D.C.) at 57 hours of delay and 40 gal of wasted fuel each year per traveler. Congestion in the Atlanta area cost each rush-hour commuter over $1,250, totaling almost $3 billion annually for the region.

GDOT decided to tackle the problem by targeting the most problematic intersections and corridors for signal-timing upgrades. Coordinated traffic-signal technology has been shown to return $40 to the public in time and fuel savings for every $1 dollar invested. By synchronizing traffic signals in the Atlanta region, GDOT plans to improve traffic flow along major commuter corridors as well as reduce environmental emissions.

The Regional Traffic Operations program has already begun at 203 intersections and will soon be expanded to 430 intersections along 11 corridors.

Through partnerships with local agencies, GDOT will share access to cameras and remotely control traffic signals, allowing the agency to make adjustments to the timing as problems are identified, or when lane closures and accidents happen.
The Regional Traffic Operations Program was established to address transportation concerns throughout Atlanta, including how to improve traffic flow along major commuter corridors that may cross multiple jurisdictional boundaries. The program has implemented a regional effort for the operation of traffic signals by developing traffic-signal timing plans focused on increasing throughput during the peak periods.

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