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. 

Contact Reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com

(9) comments

Brallen

This is the smart kind of solutions that make sense. Now they need to start working on the signal timing on 96 heading to 146. Since they did the resurfacing traffic gets caught at nearly every intersection, even with no one waiting to cross.

LC713

I totally agree with you. I grew up in CA and parkways (such as LC parkway) are timed that you can go through at least 4-5 w/o stopping. It holds the minority cross traffic for a longer time to allow the majority to keep moving. For me, it's stop at education village, stop at columbia highway, stop at SSH, stop at tuscan lakes, sometimes make it through louisiana, stop at 270, stop at hwy 3, stop at walker (which is ridiculously long).

The pressure sensors they installed are not far enough back, they should be about .5 miles, so when you trigger it going 55, the light knows you and dozens of other cars are coming and to hold the ONE car waiting to cross.

One good note is AT LEAST they are using flashing yellow turns.

Kevin Lang

I don't think we have pressure sensors at the signals now. I think they're all optical sensors. What I like is that some of the signals, like the one at Pinehurst and 518 will generally stop traffic on 518 before cars coming out of South Shore even get to the exit gate, or the people coming out of Coronado even get a chance to show they're turning right. Yet, at South Shore, I've waited a couple of minutes to turn left, seemingly for people starting at the Kemah WalMart to be able to get through the signal. I don't think the people programming the signals ever drive the roads--at least not objectively.

Para Medic

What about the 518 mess on the west side. It is ridiculous to take 30mins to go 3 miles. Too many traffic lights too close together and they are not on the same timing as each other.

Jason Knutson

Cruiser, the article lists 518 from Wesley to Palamino as being one of the areas the system is being installed.

SteveO_o

What they really need to do is just make the N/S light on 518 blinking red between 10pm and 7am at the minor intersections. I dont see why they are stopping E/W traffic during these off hours at all.

LC713

For goodness sake also look at Columbia Hwy and 96...the traffic backs up in both directions on 96 to let one person out of that small subdivision and then it stays green for minutes.

Also, 96 at the Education Village. The light changes on 96 to red even when there is NO ONE at any of the cross/turn sections.

Implement the flashing yellow light on 96 and people, you can roll into the intersection on a flashing yellow turn light so the rest of us can get through the light too.

Kevin Lang

Brallen, I think 96 is about the same as it was before the resurfacing. It's always been bad, but then they added the light at Louisiana and made it horrible. We can thank TxDOT for the ten cent signals an our multi-million dollar roads.

I kind of think the lights at the Lawrence Rd intersections may still belong to TxDOT because they're on the Kemah border.

It is puzzling that the W. 518 lights are only included out to Palomino. They should at least include Bay Area, if not further. Also, I hope that the procurement specs for all future signal purchases will include adaptive technologies.

Jason Knutson

I agree Bay Area should have been included but beyond that there is only one intersection with lights that belongs to League City.

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