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All the City's Traffic Lights Are Finally Synchronized

The $410 million effort coordinates traffic signals across the city under a centralized system.

The last of the city's nearly 4,400 traffic signals were synchronized Tuesday, marking completion of a project designed to lessen the amount of time that drivers spend in gridlock.

The Automated Traffic Surveillance & Control system, a $410 million effort to coordinate traffic signals across the city under a centralized system, could reduce the average amount of time drivers spend in traffic by one day per year, according to city transportation officials.

Synchronization is designed to increase travel speed by 12 percent, while decreasing the time spent stuck in traffic by 16 percent, according to Jaime de la Vega, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

The system coordinates traffic not only for vehicles, but also for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit. Transportation engineers can monitor traffic remotely through cameras throughout the city, make adjustments to signal timing and analyze traffic data to improve traffic flow. Police and emergency vehicles will also be able to take advantage of the new system.

The signals can be programmed to respond to unusual traffic scenarios involving crowd-heavy events at major sports and convention venues like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

"As of today, we have synchronized every traffic signal in the City of Los Angeles," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was on hand at the intersection of South Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard to turn on the final traffic signal in the system.

He also commended the effort for potentially reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, since vehicles will be less likely to idle and emit exhaust.

"By synchronizing our traffic signals, we will spend nearly a day less (per year) waiting and reduce pollution by nearly a metric ton of carbon every year," Villaraigosa said.

The synchronization system was first proposed prior to the 1984 Olympic games held in Los Angeles. But the project lapsed until 2005, when Villaraigosa lobbied for the allocation of $150 million in Proposition 1B money to complete the program.

B Russ February 21, 2013 at 09:44 AM
Mathematically, this does not mean every light is synced in order to miss reds. That's not logically possible. It's the opposite some of the time: during rush hours, lights are set for cars to hit more reds on stretches that lead to congestion areas. It slows the feeds leading to the bottlenecks. So it may feel more frustrating to hit more reds in stretches at drive times, and unfortunately people won't be aware of the relatively decreased congestion at the grid points. (The congestion is still there, just not as bad by a hair.) Result is, drivers indeed are spending less time stopped in aggregate and getting home a little faster. Sadly drivers don't (can't) really notice it. No one can experience the alternative, the averted 16% worse at any rush hour moment that they'll never know about. Traffic is still bad, just not "worse". That's not a great outcome. Every little bit, like this synchronization, is necessary, though it hardly solves the problem. Bolder infrastructure changes are needed. Judging from contemporary economics, debt, and politics of austerity, don't hold your breath. At least we have this band-aid!
William Brady February 23, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Darn, after writing a response I am told I have not signed in, then in doing so it deleted my response, why arent I automatically signed in?
William Brady February 23, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Ed Rowe, the then head of LA DOT really believed such a system could work, he convinced the state and federal government it would, It didn’t and it won’t, that was obvious after the first few installations were tested. It is money squandering like this that has gotten us to the mess we have today. Pie in the sky ideas that have no attachment to common sense, and, like the orange line across the west SFV, actually make congestion worse. How many of us sit at red lights time after time when there is NO traffic cross flow, and as we sit there a long line of cars pile up behind us. Sometimes the waits are so long that drivers get distracted and aren’t even paying attention when the light eventually goes green. Why do we have such long red periods? Simply halving the time would improve flow tremendously. There are so many simple –low cost- ways to improve traffic flow. We just don’t have anyone with the creativity, or motive to explore them.
nobikiniatoll February 26, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Now let's hope Pasadena gets the message.
Al Po February 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Another LA government boondoggle, they re-do this every few years it seems, just went from 170 to 405 on Burbank Blvd., took me 19 minutes!! NO traffic but lots of red lights, I went 35 & hit almost EVERY red light! Also, it was tow away time, but many cars parked in the no parking zone? Where is the meter maid contingent- & it took 7 minute to clear the intersection of Burbank Sepulveda 405 & I saw that the light work reel good for east bound Burbank it was almost solid traffic sockedin from 405 to Woodley, they used to have some traffic cops directing traffic, but I saw them all over @ Chipolte when I drove by.......ahhhh

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