Syncing Atlanta’s Traffic Lights Part of Bond Plan

walton street atlanta

Polls are showing that Atlanta’s $250 million transportation bond is likely to pass when it goes before city of Atlanta voters next month.

We reported back in January that the plan included removing the DeKalb Avenue “reversible lane”.  But obviously there are a lot of other projects on the proposed list.  A broader reaching item on the list is syncing Atlanta’s traffic light system.  Creative Loafing reports…

As part of its upcoming $250 million infrastructure bond package, it currently plans to spend more than $35 million — the final figure and list of projects is still being approved — to sync traffic signals and replace others across the city. Though traffic engineers have updated signals in some parts of Atlanta, lights haven’t been synchronized on a citywide level in a long, long time. According to at least one report, we’re talking the 1970s.

More than one-third of the city’s intersections with traffic signals — about 350 out of 960, the mayor’s office says — has received upgrades. Some of those improvements have occurred thanks to a Georgia Department of Transportation grant program. Mayor Kasim Reed spokeswoman Jenna Garland tells CL the city could complete the work needed to sync up all intersections if voters approve the bond package on St. Patrick’s Day.

However, when drivers wins, pedestrian and cyclists often lose.

CL quotes Sally Flocks, president and CEO of pedestrian advocacy group PEDS, who suggests that the city should make sure lights are timed to encourage driving at slower speeds.  Additionally, Michael Hunter, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, suggests that all modes of transportation need to be considered while optimizing traffic lights.  He also notes that a one-time influx of funding to fix the issue isn’t enough.  Funding for ongoing maintenance is important and often overlooked by cities.

**Related Note** And before anyone jumps off on the tangent about Decatur’s traffic light synchronization, check out this post from last August.  Decatur is waiting for DeKalb to upgrade traffic signals around the city before taking over traffic light synchronization.  That upgrade project has been pushed back until 2017.

10 thoughts on “Syncing Atlanta’s Traffic Lights Part of Bond Plan”

  1. This is at least the third time I heard this said and, needless to say, I’m not optimistic that it will be done. The last time it was supposed to be part of Gov Perdue’s $40M transportation improvement plan.

  2. My experience commuting from Decatur to Five Points daily has been that Sally gets her wish. Traffic on Peachtree Street crawls due to traffic signaling. Traffic on Edgewood and Auburn crawls due to traffic signaling and is impeded further by the Streetcar lumbering along, with additional signal delays to allow its sweeping turns.

    I bike, and even I notice what appears to be a deliberate effort to make driving on downtown streets inconvenient.

    1. Since you bike and say you’ve noticed lumbering steetcars, just curious if you’re one of the many bikers who continue to bike on the same streets and in the same direction as the streetcars travel even though they are clearly marked as no-bike streets.

      1. Since you ask, on my daily commute I use Edgewood going into town and Auburn leaving, traveling in the opposite direction of the streetcar. I have found that this permits me to avoid riding parallel to the tracks and the dangerous, shallow depressions alongside them.

        When necessary I cross the tracks to reach my destination.

        Marking downtown streets as “no-bikes” may be well-intended, but is in my opinion an unenforceable farce.

        1. Yes. probably well intended but more likely it’s all about CYA so I don’t think there will be any enforcement. I do see it every day and shudder to think of a bike wheel getting caught in those tracks. I’ve only seen that once so far, and they went down quickly!

      2. Any biker who does that is nuts. It’s kind of scary, and I’ve heard of bikes getting their tire stuck in the tracks.

        Signage is lacking however. I did it once about a month ago — biking west on Edgewood, turned north on Jackson. Oh crap — parallel tracks! There’s a “no bike” sign on Jackson, but you only see if after turning onto it, a few feet up the road.

        Apparently ABC is working with the city to point out deficiencies in signage. I think a lot of the bikers who do it just don’t know better, or got caught by accident like me.

    2. What? The $100M streetcar (that has not met its ridership projections, even when FREE) hasn’t eliminated all traffic concerns?

  3. I know we’ve beat this horse before, but I can’t resist another kick… Why on earth would we want to eliminate the reversible lane on Dekalb?

    1. I think the key word is “we”. We are not removing the reversible lane. The City of Atlanta is. Perhaps they don’t see that street’s main purpose as moving commuters from points east into downtown. Maybe the want it to better serve their residents who live along it and need to travel in both directions. “We ” as in COD did this with West Ponce. I’m pretty sure that was not popular with cut through commuters either.

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