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Traffic Signal

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Coordination of Traffic Signals

The City’s traffic signals are supervised by a master computer. City staff uses this computer to coordinate the traffic signals on major streets throughout the day.

The goal of coordination is to get the greatest number of vehicles through the system with the fewest stops. Heavier traffic movements are given precedence over lighter traffic movements. The traffic signal master assigns different cycle lengths to the signals during the day. The length is determined by traffic demand.

City traffic engineers and technicians are constantly upgrading the City’s system by monitoring traffic volumes on street and turning movements at busy intersections. This information is used to time the signals and help traffic flow with less delay. How well traffic flows along a street depends on several factors:

  • The spacing of the signals along the street
  • Signal timing
  • Traffic volume
  • Number of traffic lanes and their availability
  • Driver behavior and speed
  • Physical characteristics of the roadway

Many drivers ask why they have to wait so long for a signal to change. To allow the coordination of the arterial, the side street must wait until the main traffic movement on the arterial has gone through the intersection. It is possible that the arterial traffic can’t be seen immediately, but will soon be passing through the intersection.


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