Georgia DOT’s Smart Signal System key to moving Super Bowl traffic

Jan. 31, 2019

The big game will brings tens of thousands down to Atlanta on Feb. 3

Super Bowl LIII traffic is descending on metro Atlanta, and the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) traffic management team is readying to tackle the challenge.

Matthew Glasser, Regional Traffic Operations Program (RTOP) manager, and his team of engineers at GDOT’s Transportation Management Center (TMC) are working to ensure that traffic signals are timed for maximum efficiency to help keep traffic moving, especially in light of the influx of additional vehicles on city roadways.

Therefore, GDOT has launched an event-specific traffic command center at the TMC during the 10 days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday and through to the removal of the last lane closure. TMC staff is working extended hours to manage the increased traffic, as well as the expected—and unexpected—lane closures, detours and special events that may occur. GDOT will continue to work in concert with the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department and other agencies to coordinate traffic management in order to provide the best experience for both Georgia residents and out of town guests.

Oversized television monitors and vehicle detection systems allow traffic engineers to remotely survey traffic situations in real-time and to immediately tweak signal timing as needed. GDOT’s traffic management system enables the agency to make decisions on a corridor-long basis as opposed to intersection-by-intersection. This ensures that changing the signal timing at one intersection does not create unintended consequences at another.

“Our number one goal during the Super Bowl festivities will be to keep vehicles and pedestrians moving,” Glasser said. “While we expect a lot traffic, we also would like for everyone to arrive at their destinations safely.”

In addition to signal modifications, extensive traffic plans include road or lane closures near the stadium, detours to re-route traffic, cones to channel traffic, and temporary static and variable message signs to keep the public informed.

Smart signal technology enhances pedestrian safety as well. For example, at the stadium on game day, RTOP engineers can initiate a pedestrian scramble by lengthening the red light for vehicles and allowing people entering and exiting the stadium plenty of time to cross the intersection. The goal is to keep people on foot safe and moving.

Moreover, the Monday after the game is expected to be an exceptionally heavy travel day, with up to 75,000 additional vehicles on the road as people leave town.

“While we aim to ensure the best experience possible for the public, the roads will nevertheless be crowded. If teleworking or MARTA are not options and you must drive, please plan ahead and build in extra time,” Glasser said. “Also, remember that cell phone use while driving in Georgia must be hands free; it is illegal to hold your phone while driving.”

Each day through Feb. 4, GDOT will issue a Traffic Impact Report alert, an analysis of the daily traffic in downtown Atlanta and on metro interstates. The alert includes traffic patterns, performance metrics, adjusted plans and major events.