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.