LEAGUE CITY — Travel times in League City should be getting shorter, and maintenance costs should be going down as the city rolls out a new adaptive traffic light system.
Thirty intersections along three corridors in the city are plugged into a traffic management system that will allow the city’s traffic division to monitor the traffic lights remotely, said Linc Wright, the city’s traffic engineer.
The three corridors are:
• FM 518 from Columbia Memorial Parkway to Texas Avenue, which includes the five-corners intersection;
• FM 518 from Wesley Street to Palomino Lane;
• FM 646 from Bay Creek Drive to W. Walker Street, which includes the Interstate 45 traffic signals.
Thirteen of those 30 intersections will be equipped with adaptive traffic lights. Through a series of sensors that send a message to a signal control box, the traffic lights will adjust to the flow of traffic, Wright said.
“The approach that has the most volume is going to get the most time,” he said. “It will allow things to clear out and it will run more efficiently than just a standard, timed-based coordination that you see at most intersections.”
Those adaptive traffic lights systems will go online soon, he said. In the meantime the other 17 intersections along the three corridors are already on a series of timing plans developed from traffic studies, Wright said.
There has already been a 12 to 15 percent decrease in travel times, and once the 13 adaptive traffic lights go online travel times should drop another 3 to 5 percent, he said.
Along with helping motorists, the new system will allow the traffic department to deal and respond to problems faster. The 30 traffic lights on the MIST traffic system can all be monitored from the traffic department’s desktop or laptop computers, Wright said.
A few of the intersections have cameras that allow the department to see what’s happening in real time, and all the traffic lights are plugged into the system so the traffic department staff can see what the individual lights are doing and fix problems remotely.
“It gives us the ability to monitor the traffic, and, if we need to, in this system we can adjust the timing to try and improve the operation out there,” Wright said.
That will reduce maintenance costs when he or David Tickell, traffic operations supervisor for League City, no longer have to rush out to an intersection just to see what’s wrong, Wright said. Now they can check their computer and see whether a problem requires going to the site or the issue can be fixed with just punching a few keys on the computer.
The system cost the city about $850,000, Wright said.
“It will pay for itself fairly quickly,” he said.
And there are plans to use the system to provide traffic information on the city’s website. The system will eventually relay traffic information to the city website so residents can look up what the traffic is doing in places like the five corners intersection or other major roads in town, Wright said.
“It’s technology at its finest,” he said.